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Two Hawks, Dancing

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“Mr. Kuryakin, there is no need to raise your voice," Mr. Waverly said firmly.

Illya Kuryakin disagreed. There was a pressing need to raise his voice if it was the only way to get the doctor to listen. Before he could say so Mr. Waverly continued. "Dr. Needham is not suggesting that we put Mr. Solo away and forget about him. None of us are. But he is simply not responding to treatment here."

Illya took a deep breath, forced himself to be calm. Over the past four weeks he had had to exercise more calm than he thought he processed. "Mr. Waverly, I realize that I don't know medicine or psychiatry, but I know Napoleon Solo. If you put him 'somewhere quiet,'" he quoted the doctor. "You're sentencing him to death."

Waverly and Dr. Needham exchanged quick glances. They wouldn't admit it out loud but they both knew he was right. Waverly looked questioningly at Needham. The doctor only shrugged. Solo had been his patient for the three weeks since his release from intensive care. He had shown no sign of improvement.

Mr. Waverly sat down. "Very well, Mr. Kuryakin. We will give your 'treatment' a try. I'll take care of all the necessary arrangements."

 

The necessary arrangements had taken ten long days. The staff doctors insisted on giving Illya a full briefing on what they knew, what they suspected and what they could guess at concerning Napoleon's condition, both mental and physical. Illya went through the briefings impatiently. It wasn't that he didn't believe the doctors were doing their best. He knew they were responsible for keeping Napoleon alive after his rescue, if such a word still applied after the shape they had found him in. But he was still convinced that getting Napoleon away was the absolute best thing he could do.

It was eleven days after the decision in Waverly's office that Illya pulled the rented gray sedan up to the front of a small western Vermont hunting lodge. UNCLE owned several 'safe houses' scattered across the world. This one tended to be used more for vacationing agents than for secerting witnesses or defectors. That was one of the reasons it had taken longer to arrange. Illya made a mental note to offer apologies to anyone who lost their favorite vacation spot because of his insistence that this was the best place for Napoleon to recover.

Moving around to the passenger side of the car Illya opened the door. "Come on, Napoleon," he said cheerfully. "We're here."

Napoleon keep his eyes on the floorboard, remained silent and unmoving. Illya took his arm firmly, urged him up and put a stout blackthorn cane in his hand. Napoleon took the cane and allowed Illya to lead him toward the house.

"Remember the last leave we took here?" Illya questioned. There was no answer from his partner. He hadn't expected any. Not yet.

The inside of the lodge was warmly furnished in rich oak and handwoven rugs. After helping his partner into a large chair near the east window Illya opened the windows to air out the stuffiness. After that he moved in the luggage and supplies. As he moved around the room he continued to talk about their last leave; the fishing, the barroom brawl with some locals at the nearest towns only bar, the two lovely hikers they had met while on the local trails.

When he had finished he noted that Napoleon's head had dropped and the cane was now held in limp fingers. Illya walked over and touched his shoulder gently, concern showing in his face, "Come on, Napoleon, to bed with you."

He waited, Napoleon remained seated. Illya tugged at his arm, brought him to his feet and lead him into the south bedroom.

"Stand here while I turn down the bed." Napoleon stood where he was.

After the bed was ready Illya took the cane from Napoleon's hand and eased off his jacket. Under the white cotton shirt the brace for his broken clavicle was clearly visible. So were the still fresh surgical scars. More subtle but more telling was the way the shirt hung on him. His five days of torture and confinement followed by the long hospital stay had cut twenty pounds off his already trim frame.

Illya swallowed, tried to keep the depression out of his voice. "We are going to have to feed you better. I'll have to cook up some of your favorite dishes, and lots of them." He helped him into a pajama top, pushed him down on the bed and removed his pants.

"Get some sleep." He watched Napoleon close his eyes before quietly leaving the room.

Back in the main room Illya pulled out his communicator. "Open Channel D, please."

"Yes, Mr. Kuryakin?" Waverly's voice answered quickly.

"Just checking in, sir. No problems here. Anything on those papers of Adams'?" It had become a frequently asked question.

"Not so far. Notes on experiments in general but nothing referring to Mr. Solo. We'll let you know as soon as we find anything." Illya noticed that Waverly had carefully avoided saying if.

Illya signed off and leaned back with a sigh. He tried to remember everything he could about the man responsible for Napo

leon's current condition, Dr. Abel Adams. He couldn't recall any

thing more than what he had put in the reports. Four years earlier Adams had captured Napoleon for use in an experiment to show THRUSH how easy it was to mentally destroy UNCLE agents. It had almost worked. It had failed due to Illya's intimate knowledge of the way his partner's mind worked coupled with the fact that upon his capture Adams had bragged about the methods he had used on Solo.

The first time Adams had Napoleon for barely six hours. This time he was held for almost six days. Adams had also had the misfortune of dying in the raid Illya had lead to rescue his partner. Illya's feelings about that were mixed. As much as he had wanted Adams to pay for the pain he inflicted on Napoleon he realized that one of the most important leads to Napoleon's recovery was knowing what had been done to him. The physical abuse was obvious. What mental shock had caused him to withdraw so completely from the world only he and Adams had known, and the only way Adams was going to help now was any notes he might have left in his diary.

 

At first Napoleon slept most of the time. After that a routine was quickly established. Illya cooked, helped Napoleon bath and dress, adjusted his brace, watched his vital signs, gave him his medicine. And he talked, without stop, about everything, anything and nothing. He talked about times on duty, off duty, of women and friends, allies and enemies. All the time he talked he watched the dark-haired agent's reaction. Napoleon's reactions remained the same no matter what the subject. Nothing. Illya remained optimistic. He hadn't expected it to be easy.

Their third week there he started Napoleon on the massages the UNCLE doctors had recommended. He also started his own exercise program that included long walks though the green Vermont countryside. There was a large lake a hundred yards out the back of the cabin with several trails around it. They would walk until Napoleon's limp became pronounced then sit by the calm blue water. It was the only time Illya became silent.

They started one walk just as the sun was lighting the sky. As they stepped out of the cabin Illya realized that summer was very quickly giving way to fall. "Stay here, Napoleon." He turned back to the door. "I'm going to get you a coat."

When he came back Napoleon was gone. Panic hit him across the ribs. He stepped toward the tree lined path. "Napoleon!" He realized how hopeless it was to call, called again. "Napoleon!"

He scanned the ground. UNCLE agents usually didn't work in the woods but it wasn't hard to spot the imprint of Napoleon's cane. With a certain sense of relief he noted that he had taken the path away from the lake. Trotting quickly but with his eyes still on the cane marks he followed his partner.

Napoleon was sitting on a tree stump next to one of the many soft flowing streams that feed the main lake. Illya started to call out to him, stopped. He watched in silent joy as Napoleon's eyes scanned along the streambed. The cane lazily tapped a pattern on one of the glistening wet rocks. They were the first independent actions that his friend had taken since his release.

Controlling the urge to grab Napoleon, spin him around and hug him Illya approached quietly and stood behind him. After a moment he said softly, "It's very beautiful here, isn't it?"

The effect of his simple statement was startling. Napoleon jumped, spun around a look of total terror on his face, then dropped his eyes to the ground and stood as unresponsive as he had for the past two months.

Illya reached out, gripped both Napoleon's arms. "Napoleon?" Napoleon remained still. Illya's hands dropped. "Come on." He tugged Napoleon along and they walked into the pine scented forest.

 

The last chords faded into the crackling fire and Illya stilled the strings. The guitar had been a gift from Napoleon on their first Christmas as a team. He used it to relax, had been using it a lot lately. It was getting harder to fall asleep. Waverly and Dr. Needham were getting worried about him. It was hard to hide his disappointment as the days crept by.

It was also hard to hide from other feelings. The disappointment and frustration he could handle. It was Napoleon's constant nearness that had forced to the surface emotions Illya thought long buried.

Several months after they had been teamed Illya realized that he was feeling more toward Napoleon than the normal friendship and loyalty owed a partner. He was in love with Napoleon Solo. The thought frightened him, not that he could be in love with another man; Napoleon had been his first friend in America, was always there, always supportive, and he processed a sexuality that few, male or female could resist. What frightened him was the thought of Napoleon finding out. Illya had lost too much to risk Napoleon's friendship on some juvenile fantasy. So he guarded what he had and pushed away the hope of anything more.

He leaned forward, eased another log onto the fire. The nights were getting cooler. While he welcomed the break from the summer heat the change emphasized the fact that he was running out of time. The actions at the stream and a slight weight gain were the only improvements Napoleon had shown. It was time for a new method. Only he had no idea of what. Shifting the guitar forward he strummed a loose chord.

"Play." The voice was so soft, Illya's concentration so deep that for a second he didn't respond. The realization that it was Napoleon beside him set his hand to shaking. He controlled his reactions, keep watching the fire, didn't ask or look or move. His mind fumbled for a song. He started playing.

Two hours later Napoleon got up as quietly as he had come and went back into the bedroom. Illya stopped. There were blisters on his fingers, and mist in his eyes.

Napoleon's screams ripped him from his dreams. He was in the bedroom, gun in hand before he had time to think. Napoleon cried out again, pitched in the bed. There was no one else in the room. Fighting the blanket Napoleon moaned softly, muttering under his breath. Illya moved to the bed, laid the gun on the nightstand. Despite the cool of the evening his partner was sweating.

"No, please..." Napoleon pleaded. "Kill him...no! Stop!"

Napoleon's struggles grew wilder. Illya crawled into the bed, grabbed Napoleon by the wrists. "Napoleon! Wake up, Napoleon. It's a dream." Napoleon's thrashing stopped. He looked up at Illya. For the merest instant their eyes met. Napoleon jerked out of Illya's grasp.

He rolled to the wall. "I killed him." he said flatly.

Illya pulled him away from the wall, into his arms. "It will be alright. I'm here."

Illya could feel him slipping away. "Napoleon," he demanded, "What happened? What happened after Adams captured you?" Dangerous ground. He had been warned that too many questions too soon could push Solo away forever.

Napoleon ignored the question. He mutterings stopped. Very gently Illya pulled him tighter, "Napoleon, who did you kill?"

There was a long, tense moment of silence. Illya swallowed hard. "Who did you kill?"

"Illya." was the soft reply. He wrenched away, curled into a fetal position against the wall. Illya let him go. He was too shocked to do anything else.

 

"That explains a lot." Dr. Needham's voice carried clearly over Illya's communicator.

"Not to me it doesn't." Illya snapped. After a long night he wanted plain answers in simple English.

"Guilt is a powerful emotion. Somehow Adams convinced Mr. Solo that he had killed you. That, combined with the physical abuse and we can't be sure what else, was more than he could handle. There was only one way out, to deny everything."

Illya sighed. "So, how do we convince him that I'm alive and well?"

"We don't." Needham replied. "If that's all it took to bring him around seeing you the first time would have done it."

Illya rubbed his face triedly. "Then what...."

"We, you, have to get him to face what he did, or what he thinks he did. You have to find out why he found it necessary to kill someone he obviously cares for." There was an awkward pause. "And Illya, he may never accept the fact that you are alive and he really didn't kill you."

Illya shut off the communicator without signing off. He had no idea how to accomplish what the doctor suggested, and was afraid to think about what the last statement might mean.

"Morning." Illya started, spun around, worried that his jumping might have upset Napoleon.

Napoleon merely stood in the door, eyes on the floor. He was shaved, his dark hair nearly black after his shower and wearing loose cotton pants with a plaid shirt. His voice was low, hesitant, not like Solo at all, but to Illya it was a wonderful sound. That night Napoleon's nightmare again echoed through the house. By the time Illya reached him he was sitting up in bed staring at the wall. He refused to move or talk. Illya sat with him until they both fell asleep near dawn.

The next morning it was as if nothing had happened. Napoleon ate a large breakfast, and later, after Illya cleared the table from supper brought his guitar from the bedroom. Illya played for him far into the night. Napoleon went to bed first, hesitantly, but refusing to talk about it.

Illya didn't go to bed. He pulled the chair away from the fire and closer to the door of Napoleon's room. He felt that if he could get to Napoleon as the dreams were starting he would stand a better chance of getting him to talk about them. He was willing to loose a few hours sleep to find out.

The first moan brought him to the bedside. By the second he was on the bed urging Napoleon awake. "Hurt...Illya..." Napoleon mumbled.

"Napoleon," Illya commanded. "Tell me what happened."

Still drowsy Napoleon tried to pull away. Illya held him fast, "Tell me."

"No." Napoleon refused to acknowledge the dream. "No."

Illya's grip slackened. "Napoleon, I have to know."

"Can't." Napoleon was awake now, his voice shaky in refusal. "I can't."

Illya sat for a moment. He hands fell away from Napoleon's arms. "If that's what you want." He shifted on the bed. A hand reached out and barely touched his arm. He turned. Napoleon's eyes were on the bed.

"Don't leave." the voice gently pleaded.

Illya closed his eyes against the pain those words brought. He loved this man and there didn't seem to be anything he could do to help. He pulled his legs back up on the bed. "I won't leave."

Napoleon shivered, brought his knees up and wrapped his arms around them. Illya reached down to the end of the bed and pulled up the hand made quilt. He draped it around his partner, tucked it over his shoulders.

The impulse hit him so fast that he didn't have time to think about it, fight it, all he could do was react. He leaned forward, gently raised Napoleon's face toward him and brushed his lips lightly across Napoleon's. Napoleon moved closer, rested his head against Illya's shoulder. A feeling of warm, pleasant surprise went through Illya. He wrapped his arms lightly around the other man.

His hand brushed Napoleon's cheek. He was not rebuffed. Unable to believe what he was doing his mouth found his partners again, still light, unbelieving. There was a small sigh from Napo

leon. Illya's hand moved, entangled itself in Napoleon's fine, dark hair. The other arm slipped beneath the cotton pajama top. He pulled back desperately wishing Napoleon would look at him. That thought melted away as Napoleon's hand trailed down his side.

The quilt fell beneath them as Illya eased Napoleon back in to the bed. With careful moves he unbuttoned Napoleon's top. Illya's breath tightened, came a little faster. He pulled off his shorts while running a hand down the dark chest, tugged off Napoleon's as well. Fighting down his building desire he concentrated on his partner.

Tracing slow circles on Napoleon's chest he gradually moved up to massage his good shoulder. He leaned over, one arm going under Napoleon's side, rolling him closer. His tongue parted warm lips, entwined his partner's tongue. The kiss was long and left him pant ing. His hand moved down Napoleon's stomach, skimmed over his hips. Illya flinched as he touched the new scars on his friend's thigh. Butterfly kisses traced the square jaw, flowed down his neck, crossed the now crooked collarbone.

Napoleon remained still, strangely passive. Illya pulled back. To take an unwilling partner was completely alien to his nature. Shame over taking advantage of his friend coupled with thoughts about Napoleon's mental state made him hesitate. He started to pull away. Napoleon's eyes flicked up for the merest second. He reached out, tugged Illya's arm. The spirit might try to deny the world but the body had it's own demands. Illya relaxed back down next to the person he loved, kissed him again.

Illya slid his leg between Napoleon's, brushed his hand very gently against the blood red cock. His own swelled as it rubbed against Napoleon's hip. Napoleon moaned, forced himself closer. Illya's other leg moved over Napoleon's back, locking them together. Turning half over his weight forced their bodies together, rubbed sensitive cocks against hard stomach muscles.

What in Illya's fondest fantasies had been a slow and gentle first time was instead fast and impatient, with an edge of desperation. Trying to control his desire Illya moved in slow, smooth glides against his trapped partner but Napoleon's long forced abstinence made him wrap his arms tight around the Russian, arch up against him, thrust hard. Illya's control slipped away under the hunger in Napoleon's grip. He moved faster, fire and ice zipping along his nerves. Beneath him Napoleon stiffened, cried out and Illya felt the heat of his coming spread between them. He thrust once more, his hands digging into Napoleon's arms, then the world blinked out for a second.

His full weight was pressed down on his partner. With a sigh he forced his head up from a sweat soaked shoulder, stared down at Napoleon with a soft smile. Napoleon's eyes opened slowly as Illya ran the back of his hand along one cheek. Blue and brown gazes locked. Illya's smile grew. He'd forgotten how brown Napoleon's eyes were. Happiness faded into stunned horror as he watched the brown eyes go blank. He kissed him, whispered his name, but Napoleon was gone, disappeared back into his world of silence.

 

Illya never mentioned that night in any report; guilt and years of hiding his secret made it impossible. The reports to Waverly grew shorter, finally coming down to just two words - no change. There was no pattern that Needham could detect in Napoleon's behavior. One day he talked, low, hesitantly, agreeing. The next he would not response to anything except direct orders, sullen and silent. The nightmares were almost constant. Illya held him through each one but stopped either of them from going any further. He wanted Napoleon, but he wanted him well and willing. Memory of that blank stare in the coffee colored eyes scared him.

The world turned red and gold around them. Illya increased their walks. His own health was slipping under the sleepless nights. He admitted to himself that he couldn't keep it up much longer. He took some comfort in watching Napoleon regain his physical health, even though it was maddingly slow compared to the older agent's normal gung ho, get-back-in-harness attitude.

They sat in their usual silence by the lake; Illya watching Napoleon, Napoleon staring into the crimson, leaf-lined water. Geese winged by above them, honking loudly. Illya tilted back to watch, caught sight instead of two hawks; dancing, circling, tumbling in the prefect blue sky.

An infinite, unnamed sadness touched his chest. He looked away from the beautiful creatures. He didn't feel like sitting there any more. Everything suddenly seemed to remind him of old times, when he had a partner, a friend, when there was no such thing as one. He stood up, tapped Napoleon's arm.

"Time to go, Napoleon." There was no answer. He reached over and took Napoleon's upper arm. "Come on."

"No." The arm jerked away.

Illya stared. He knelt beside Napoleon, swallowed. This was the first resistance Napoleon had shown, first disagreement. Illya tested. "We need to leave."

Napoleon remained staring at the ground but his voice was steady, strong. "Not yet."

Illya nearly kissed him. He'd never been so happy to have someone disagree with him in his entire life. He sat down next to his partner. When the sun was finally approaching zenith Napoleon stood, walked back to the lodge with Illya tagging behind.

 

"Do you think there could be any danger?" Illya sat on the front porch, speaking quietly into his communicator, watching the last leaves float down in a wind made cascade.

There was a moments pause at the other end while Dr. Needham contemplated the request. "No. I think it's an excellent idea. From his improved reactions I'd say he was ready for some outside contact." He added carefully, "It would be good for both of you."

Illya smiled, something he'd only recently remembered he could do. "I don't know how much contact he'll get in Graniteville, but it will be something besides this cabin and woods. Thank you."

He quietly entered the house, walked to the telephone, picked it up and dialed the local grocery. The same, usual friendly voice answered and he rattled off his supply list. The final question was the same one he'd answered every week since their arrival. Did he want that order delivered? He told the clerk he would pick it up, hung up.

Napoleon was sitting in front of the large window, skin winter sun warmed when Illya touched his arm. "Napoleon, how would you like to go to town?"

"Do you have any guitar strings?" Illya would have considered it a strange question in most stores but this was an old-fashioned general store, or country store as Napoleon might have called it. It seemed to carry everything from soap to animal traps so guitar stings didn't seem so unusual.

He was right. The large, New England accented man behind the counter smiled at him and stepped toward one of the overflowing cabinets. "You want one or all six?"

Before Illya could answer he felt something tug minutely at his left sleeve. He turned to find himself staring down at a lovely little blonde girl, face flushed with the cold. He knelt down to put himself on her level, smiled at her. "Hello, little one, what can I help you with?"

"Do you have a gray car?" she asked clearly.

He was surprised at the question but nodded. "Yes."

"Is the man in the front seat your friend?"

"Yes."

"They're being mean to him."

Fear grabbed him. He absently patted the girl on the head and sprinted out. Two large men were sitting on the car hood, one was leaning in the passenger side window. They were laughing. Illya came around the back of the car, paused for a minute to study them then levelly asked, "Can I help you gentlemen with something?"

The man pulled back away from the car. He was in his early twenties Illya guessed, roughly dressed and even though it was barely ten in the morning, very drunk. He was also very large. The other two stood up. The same description fit them. With a sense of apprehension he recognized them as three of the local low lifes he and Napoleon had brawled with a year earlier. From the nasty smiles that greeted him he knew he had also been recognized.

"Our favorite two New Yorkers." One laughed. He shoved Napoleon from the open window. "I thought we ran you two faggots out of town once already."

Illya ignored the now true remark. His apprehension took a sudden turn toward anticipation. He had been inactive too long. Very calmly he said, "Actually, seven of you tried to run us out of a bar." He paused. "I hope the scars don't show."

The man came at him. Illya ducked, rabbit punched twice, knocking the man back. Illya followed as the other two moved up on him. With a quick shift in tactics he grabbed the larger man by the arm and threw him sideways into one of the others. The third man swung, caught him a glancing blow that he rolled with, going slightly off balance. He hit the hood, used it to recover and ducked another punch. With the car to his back he kneeded one in the stomach, landed a one-two on the next man only to be hit by a hard right to his jaw from the third. The blow spun him around straight into a low fist in his kidneys. Staggering back he hit the car, tried to brace for the next attack.

The expected blows didn't come, the others had stopped, were staring wide-eyed at a point just over his shoulder. He turned around warily, expecting more opponents. Napoleon was standing next to the passenger door, braced square, Illya's extra gun rock steady in his hands. The fingers tightened as Illya watched.

"No!" Illya lunged across the hood, pushed the gun away. The men scrambled away. Napoleon didn't resist, merely surrender the weapon to Illya, continued to stare at the place the others had occupied.

Illya touched his shoulder, "Napoleon?"

Napoleon meet the worried, intense blue gaze for a flash, then lowered his stare to the ground, a second later he broke the grip on his arm and got silently back in the car. Illya watched him. The look had been unexpected, unnerving. Where before there had been bland disinterest Illya now saw deep anger. With a worried sigh he went back in the store and finished his shopping.

 

Napoleon came to him that night. Illya woke to find him standing still as stone next to the bed. He waited a moment and when the American remained unmoving, eyes down, reached out, pulled him into the bed. Napoleon did the rest. Moving closer to the blonde he buried his head between the fair shoulder and blue sheet. He was shivering slightly but Illya was unsure if it was nerves or the night chill. Napoleon's arms went around his partner in a tight embrace.

Illya returned the embrace; keeping it light, reassuring, forcing Napoleon to set the pace and tone. Minutes went by in easy silence. Napoleon's quivering died away. Excitement dumped adrenaline into Illya's system as he felt Napoleon's hand start a slow glide down his back.

The desperation was gone, replaced by a surprising hesitation from Napoleon. Illya waited, held back. He wanted, needed Napoleon to respond more than just physically, but knew that here was a way to put a clink in the walls. With a small kiss he silently encouraged the dark-hair agent to continue.

Shaky hands began a sure exploration of the slender body. Napoleon cupped Illya's chin, tilted his face up and kissed him. Illya keep his eyes tightly closed, afraid of repeating the previous experience. A finger traced along his brow.

Illya sighed, knowing his next move would break the spell. "Napoleon, tell me about your partner."

The finger that was now running along his cheek faltered for a heartbeat. "No." was the soft reply.

Illya stroked his friend's suddenly tense back. He had to keep going, slowly, one very small step at a time. "His name was Illya, wasn't it?"

"Yes." The reply was almost inaudible.

"How long were you partners?"

No answer. The hands moved off his shoulders, down his chest, thumbs pressed against the last ribs, skimmed along his hips. His resolve faltered. With a deep, long breath he tried to ignore the fire kindling in his veins.

"How long were you par..." Napoleon's mouth pressed hard against his, demanding a response.

Waves of pleasure threatened to override Illya's determination. There was nothing passive in Napoleon's reactions this night. The caresses grew rougher, the moans turning to almost growls. Something changed. Napoleon ground against the smaller man under him, mouth bearing down until Illya tasted blood from his lips. Illya mumbled a protest, tried to shift away. Surprisingly strong hands grabbed his shoulders, pushed him roughly down into the mattress.

The calm, analytic side of the Russian sat back and observed his situation. The anger he had sensed earlier in Napoleon was now taking form, action. A wisp of fear snaked into his mind even as his body echoed Napoleon's passion. The Napoleon he knew, loved, would never have harmed him. This was not that Napoleon. This Napoleon was only acting out his helpless anger, frustration, didn't know him. And it left Illya close to being raped.

Illya knew he could fight. Napoleon was bigger, in a better position but he was still out of condition from the long convalescence. A hot mouth moved down his neck, leaving a trail of sharp bruising bites. What worried Illya was the after effects such resistance might have on Napoleon. A controlled breath calmed that part of him near physical panic, another stilled the part that was desperate to answer the man's needs. Napoleon bit hard on one pale nipple. Illya flinched.

"Napoleon," he said levelly, "You're hurting me."

Napoleon was oblivious. He grabbed the slim hips in a punishing grip, shifted Illya further up the bed, flipped him sideways. An arm slid under his right leg, bending it toward his chest.

"This is not the way, Napoleon." Illya gritted his teeth against the straining muscles. "Please..." Napoleon slapped him, hard, the sound sharp in the night calm.

Napoleon moved up, positioned himself. Illya twisted away. No matter what the effect of fighting, completion of the act would be worse for both of them. This was not what Napoleon needed. Grabbing both the bigger man's wrists he pushed them up, a quick flex of hips and he had Napoleon pinned under him, his legs scissored around the other two, completely reversing their places.

Brown eyes snapped open in terror. Napoleon started to struggle. Illya grimly held him down. Using one hand to keep suddenly sweaty wrists above Napoleon's head he let his other hand ease down to the tight erection jutting from between the tense thighs. Slow strokes and soft words tried to calmed him. Guilt crawled in the back of Illya's mind. He was doing, in a gentler fashion exactly what Napoleon had been trying, forcing him. But he saw no other option.

"Easy, Napoleon. Let me. Relax. I'm here." He lowered his head, gently licked along the scared shoulder, rubbed harder along the throbbing shaft.

Almost imperceptibly Napoleon's struggles turned to urgent thrusts into the firm hand that controlled him. Minutes passed with the only sound Illya's whispered assurances to the other. He watched in silent relief as Napoleon stiffened, cried out, his seed covering Illya's hand in hot streams.

Pulling up the edge of the sheet he wiped his hand, patted the dampness off Napoleon's stomach. He watched him, awed at the pleasure in the open features. Brown eyes flickered open again, meet the intense blue above him. Napoleon sighed, smiled very slightly, eyes slipped shut and he drifted off to sleep.

Relief flooded Illya as he sank back into the bed. It had not been pleasant but there had been something, a kind of awareness this time. Illya looked down at his own erection, lost during the images of rape, now back with painful fullness. Getting up carefully he walked toward the bathroom. It certainly wasn't the first time he had had to take care of himself. The sad thought occurred to him that when Napoleon recovered he would probably have to go back to doing it alone again.

When he came back to the bedroom Napoleon was gone. Surprised, Illya walked quietly to the other bedroom to check on his charge. The room was empty. Starting to get worried he checked the main room, the door was still shut and locked. He ran to the kitchen.

The back door stood open, a thin layer of snow just forming inside the door. Under the bright moon a line of tracks leading toward the lake were clearly visible. Illya moved into the dark, stopped, ran back inside and hastily put on a heavy coat, his hiking shoes and grabbed the afghan off the couch. He sprinted into the night.

Napoleon wasn't hard to find. He was sitting cross-legged on the three inches of ice that surrounded the lake's edge. The ice extended another three feet over the lake before becoming moonlit sheets of blue ebony. Napoleon had put on a thin bathrobe, no shoes. He was already shaking so hard Illya thought he could feel it though the ice. Illya desperately wanted to get him back inside but something told him now was another time to be patient. He settled for draping the afghan around the square shoulders, sitting down close, offering his warmth.

In a small, flat-toned voice Napoleon started talking. "Adams...wanted to know the homes...all American agents...prove something to THRUSH...they'd take him back."

The words came out in short staggering brusts. "Torture...nothing new...long time...waiting for Illya...knew he'd come." Illya flinched. He had come, but too late. "Days, week...don't know...broke my leg...couldn't try to escape."

"Adams said...time to try something new." The voice stopped. Illya waited, held his breath. Carefully he put his arm around Napoleon, hoping to encourage him to continue. Napoleon still hadn't acknowledged him. When he went on his voice was stronger, the words coming fast, like a child recounting a nightmare.

"Illya. He had Illya." His voice dropped ever so softly on the name. "Strapped to the wall. Asked me the questions...tortured him...I watched...couldn't tell. Couldn't."

"Days. Illya, never begged, never talked, never a sound. Killing him slowly. He was waiting for me to...do something...couldn't. Broke both his legs...whipped..." He stopped, fighting an almost visible battle to continue. "Couldn't tell...so many others...families. But Illya..."

"Adams came with a knife..." Napoleon's hand jerked to his eyes. "Going to blind him. Had to stop him. Said I'd tell if he'd let him down...leave us alone."

Napoleon's arms moved, positioned like he was cradling a child. "There was no bed. He was hurt so bad. Made me promise I wouldn't tell. Said one life wasn't worth so many. I promised. He was hurting. Nothing I could do, no last minute rescues."

Illya throat tightened at the old shared joke. Napoleon again fell silent, still holding, gently rocking his injured partner. A light snow started falling, the wind picked up. Illya felt him shiver but stayed silent, desperately wishing he would finish. This was the scene they both had to face.

"He fell asleep in my arms." Napoleon's voice never wavered. "I broke his neck."

Needham had been wrong. Illya knew that even as he felt the tears freeze on his cheeks, tears for what duty had forced Napoleon to do. He was crying, Napoleon was not. Napoleon Solo had faced his decision, had made his choice; had deliberately, logically killed his partner. Not because of hate or accident. Because they were what they were. It was the way men like them lived and sometimes died. Napoleon had accepted that.

Something was missing. Illya stared at him as if trying to read the missing piece though sheer willpower. The shoulders under his hands trembled with more than cold. The answer was not coming here. They both had to get inside. The slim Russian slipped an arm around Napoleon's waist, helped him up. There was nothing to say as he lead them back to the lodge.

He should have seen them, would have seen them if it had been any other night in his entire life besides this one. As the door swung open Napoleon was jerked away from him, slammed against the wall. Two jumped him from behind, pinned his arms. There were four of them. One held Napoleon, unresisting against the wall. The two pushed Illya forward, wrenching his shoulders. He clamped down on his surprised cry.

The big man from the fight at the car stepped forward, glanced at Napoleon then at Illya. He swung. Illya rolled with it, took part of it, braced himself as the next punch was aimed at his unprotected stomach. He gave with the blow, acting more hurt than he was.

There was a yell of rage from Napoleon. A second blow stopped short as the man was hit from behind by the flying body of the one who'd held Napoleon. Illya felt the arms holding him loosen slightly in surprise. He moved, yanked one hand free, hit his remaining captor with a wide swung fist, spun and followed through on the first man. The room erupted into flying bodies. Illya fell into a pattern as familiar as breathing. He didn't need to watch what his partner was doing; he knew this dance.

The fight was going to be short. Even with Napoleon out of shape they were more than a match for the four amateurs. Waverly's warning about amateur's luck flicked through his mind just as in his peripheral vision he saw the knife thrusting in towards Napoleon's open back.

"Napoleon!"

He lunged, arm out to knock the weapon away, intending to let his momentum carry him and the blade away. But he was grabbed by the other arm, jerked back, the knife skimmed under his coat shelve, ripped through the fabric and flesh along his side. He cried out, hit the man holding him with a hard roundhouse and snagged the other man's hand as the knife came in for another try. With a viscous twist he heard bones snapped.

The man screamed, grabbed his hand and went to his knees on the hard wood floor. A body sailed passed Illya to land next to the man. This one was whimpering and clutching his stomach. The other two stopped, stared at the agents they now faced alone. Without showing any concern for their downed friends they ran for the door, disappearing into the pre-dawn darkness.

Illya grabbed the one man by his shirt collar, hauled him to his feet, drug him to the door and tossed him out like a sack of garbage. He came back, reached for the other man, still laying on his side.

Can you walk?" he asked roughly.

The man looked up into the hard blue eyes, decided he'd be in more trouble if he didn't and nodded yes. Illya helped him to his feet and out, slamming the door with great satisfaction as he did. A smile was starting to grow very slowly. It had felt right to be fighting beside Napoleon. He would never admit to liking the violence, hated it for the most part but this had been like easy old times. He smiled a little wider, turned to Napoleon to make comment on the fight. The words died on his tongue.

Napoleon was standing by the main room entrance were the fight had carried him. He was staring at Illya's side in horror. Illya looked down, was vaguely surprised to find his coat soaked with blood. He pushed the cloth back, checked the cut. It was minor, he'd have more pain from the right cross he'd taken.

He smiled reassuringly over at Napoleon. "It's not serious. The bleeding has already stopped."

Napoleon continued to stare, eyes changing from horror to blazing anger. Illya took a step toward him. "Napoleon?"

Napoleon backed away, into the main room. "Why?" he grated, voice strong, cold. "Why!?"

The Russian stopped advancing. He'd missed something. "Why what?"

"The knife!" Napoleon was almost screaming now. "Why did you get between it and me?"

Only the truth would answer what Napoleon was really asking. Illya came forward slowly, his hands up towards his friend.

"I'm your friend. Friends take care of each other. I’m your partner." He swallowed. He had never said it, always felt that Napoleon knew. But now... "I love you."

"No!" Napoleon staggered back like he was shot, slammed into the mantle. "No! Not again! Never! Don't ever say that! Everyone who loves me dies before...before..." he turned away. "Don...Illya..."

Illya had his missing piece. It completed the puzzle that Adams had made of Napoleon's life. "Before what?" he keep his voice level, calm. "Before what, Napoleon?"

The man turned to face him, eyes down, face blank. But he answered. "It doesn't matter."

Months of pain and patience flashed though Illya's mind. He took two long strides, grabbed Napoleon's chin and forced it up to face him. Napoleon's eyes widened, met the flashing blue ice. "It does matter!" The voice softened. "Before what?"

"No." Napoleon tried to pull away, Illya held him.

"Your brother, your partner," He had to get Napoleon to say it. "They died before what?"

"Before I could tell them!" He hit Illya back hand, hard, knocking him loose. But Illya had seen the tears.

"I loved him." The tears gave way. "They died. I killed him. I loved him and he died before I had the guts to tell him that I loved him." The tears turned to choking sobs. He sank to his knees on the plaited rug. "All of them... Illya...

Illya went down next to him, pulled him close, rocked gently. "It's alright. He knew."

"Illya...I loved you." Napoleon whispered between shaky, gulped breaths. The tears flowed. "I loved you...love you."

"I know, Napoleon. I love you." Illya's own tears ran silently down his cheeks. He drug his sleeve across his eyes.

Napoleon wrapped his arms tightly around the blood covered ribs, buried his head on Illya's shoulder and cried all the harder. One of Illya's arms went around the other man's waist, the other petted the soft hair.

"Illya..." Napoleon sobbed again, unable to say anything else.

The soft patch of light though the east window grew slowly to fill the room. Napoleon still held on, calling his partner's name. He cried over what he'd lost, what he'd never had, and Illya cried with him. His voice grew hoarse with the sad litany.

"It's over, Napoleon. You've said it. Illya knows. He always did."

The body in his arms stiffened. Puzzled brown eyes, red rimmed and swollen looked up at him. Illya smiled, bent to kiss his love. Napoleon jerked away, broke free of the embrace. Illya froze, confused by this newest reaction.

A hand reached out toward him, like a small child discovering a mirror, touched his cheek. Napoleon's eyes went wide. Illya took the hand off his cheek, kissed the palm. "Napoleon."

"No. No." He jerked his hand back. "Can't...you can't..."

Illya leaned forward, tried to renew the embrace. Napoleon pushed away. "Adams's doing. I killed you. Now he's making me think you're here."

Illya went white. Napoleon had stopped crying, had pulled his knees up to his chest again. Illya was losing him, and he knew if that happened it would be the end of both of them.

"Napoleon, what did you want to tell me? I'm here now. Tell me."

The dark head shook in denial. "I killed you."

Illya smiled his most reassuring smile. "And now you'll deny me? That's what Adams wants. This is your chance to turn it back on him. He won't expect you to treat me as real. Tell me, please."

It was, Illya realized the most convoluted logic he had ever uttered. Napoleon laughed, harshly, without humor or hope. "Pretend you're real? Sure, why not? Might at least give the old bastard a laugh."

Without warning he moved forward, nestled Illya's face between both cold hands and lightly kissed his lips, cheeks. It was stiff, unnatural. There was nothing in his eyes. Illya smiled at him, loosely held his wrists, rubbed against the hands that held him. The warmth seeped into Napoleon's fingers, thawed the hands and the madness. The fingers swept over his lips, across his brow. Very slowly, as the fingers moved the icy, glazed stare melted away. Napoleon was looking at Illya.

"Illya?" A fearful whisper.

"Say it Napoleon." Illya urged.

"Illya, I love you." Napoleon leaned forward and kissed him, hungry, desperately. They both had to take a deep breath when he pulled back. "You're real."

"Yes." He smiled, "I love you, Napoleon."

Tears threatened, came again, different this time. "How can you be?" Memories rushed in on him. "You've been here, with me, all along."

Illya moved his dazed partner to the couch. Napoleon keep a death grip around his waist even as they stood up.

Returning the solid support, Illya said firmly. "Tell me, from the beginning everything, in detail about what happened." Napoleon wanted to protest, but nodded slightly. He understood what Illya was doing.

It started with his abduction and ended, truly ended when Adams had realized that his trick hadn't worked. Napoleon hadn't broken his silence, even at the cost of his sanity. Illya sat stoically through the last few minutes of Napoleon's halting memories. He had been there at the end, in time to see a raving Adams standing over the bloodied body of his partner with a billy club, just before one of the younger agents shot him.

"Here, the hospital..." Tears flowed down Napoleon's cheeks. "Illya, I thought...oh, God..."

Illya held him, stroked his face, wiped the tears away. "I'm here, Napoleon. I can't promise forever, but for as long as we've got, I'm here."

Illya put the last of his shirts in the suitcase, glanced around the bedroom for anything he might have forgotten, a fond smile on his lips. Living with, caring for Napoleon had meant a lot to him. While the sex had not been his ideal it was something, a piece of a fantasy. But Napoleon was back to reality now and Illya would not have had it any other way. What happened to the fantasy part when they got back to New York he didn't know.

Nothing about what had happened in the cabin had brought up. Emotional exhaustion had hit both of them as Napoleon had finished his horror story. They had fallen asleep on the couch, Napoleon laying on top of the small Russian. Napoleon had slept straight through the rest of the day and that night. He had mumbled slightly when Illya had extracted himself at dawn to make his calm report to Waverly that they would be coming home. Only a few minutes ago Illya had heard him turn on the shower.

He rubbed the back of his neck. The tension had been so constant that he hadn't noticed it until it was gone. A hand brushed his away. Gentle pressure rubbed his neck and shoulders. It felt so right, so natural that Illya leaned into it without comment. It wasn't until Napoleon turned him around that he registered surprise.

Deep brown eyes sparkled at him. Napoleon was still damp, dressed only in a bath robe. Smiling slyly, holding Illya by the shoulders Napoleon leaned forward. Illya took a step back, not far enough to break the secure hold. There was a slight moment of confusion on Napoleon's part, then he smiled again.

"Not suddenly shy, are you?" He teased.

"No...I..." Illya fumbled for an explanation. "I don't want you..."

"Oh?" Napoleon continued to advance, an innocent smile playing across his face. "That's not the impression I've been getting."

"I don't want you to do this out of mere gratitude." Illya finished defiantly.

Napoleon stopped, his expression grew serious. "My suddenly- shy-love, mere is not a word I would ever associate with what you did for me. You saved me from something worse than death."

One hand moved up to stroke Illya's chin. "And gratitude is not why I want you." The other hand slipped up to play in the gold hair. "I want you," he said huskily, "Because I love you. I've always loved you."

"Why didn't you tell me?" Illya asked softly.

Napoleon smiled. "Didn't want to admit it. It wasn't until I thought you were gone that I did admit it." He grabbed the Russian, hugged him tight. "If the past two times were your way of helping me get back, say so. We'll forget any of it ever happened."

"Forget?" Illya watched him closely. "Could you?"

"No." Napoleon said softly.

"You idiot. You think I went through all of this to lose you now!" He pulled them back together. "I want you with me forever."

"Or for as long as we have?" Napoleon asked warily, remembering the promise of the night before.

Illya nodded. "For as long."

Napoleon kissed him and Illya knew it was the first time in his life that he'd been kissed. It was undemanding, a light exploration, exotic and exciting. Napoleon eased away, started kneading Illya's hips.

"The last time..." He remembered the last time, remembered what he'd almost done to his partner, to this man that he loved. "I was a little crazy. I'm sorr..."

"Shush. It wasn't you."

"Yes, it was." Napoleon's voice held threat and promise. "I can be very demanding. I get what I want. And I want you."

Illya meet his partner's stare with frost in his own expression. "Don't kid yourself, my friend, I'm not easy." His voice melted at little. "Except for the right person."

They both smiled. Illya stepped back, started to unbutton his shirt, his hands were batted away by Napoleon. "My show, lover."

Illya blushed, much to Napoleon's delight at the endearment. Napoleon removed the suitcase from the bed, pulled back the comforter. Very slowly he undressed, knowing exactly what he was doing when it came to blatant exhibitionism. By the time he was finished Illya's eyes were large, impossible bright.

Stepping close he kissed the blonde, his fingers working the buttons loose, the shirt free from the pants. The shirt fell to the floor, Napoleon planted a tiny kiss on the bandage standing white against the fair skin. Smiling and silent he pushed Illya to sit on the bed, knelt in front of him, pulled off the hiking boots, ran his hands under the jeans and lightly up his shins. Illya sighed, lay back, tried to wiggle out of the suddenly restricting denim. Napoleon increased his struggles by slipping up and kissing each nipple lightly. Illya moaned.

"Napoleon," he tried to think of something else, if he didn't it would all be over too soon. "Have you done..."

"Yes." Napoleon smiled up at him. "Does it surprise you?"

"No." Illya looked down at the beautiful sight of Napoleon's chest resting against his stomach.

Napoleon shifted them both up into the bed. He kissed across the pearly chest, slid down, easing the pants off, trailing kisses along hips, deliberately avoided the gold trimmed cock, continued down the thighs and knees. Illya moaned again, was nearly breathless when Napoleon moved back to his lips.

Illya's fantasies melted away under the unbelievable sensuality of the reality surrounding him, overloading his senses. He gave himself over to the warmth and desire in the kiss, lips parting to allow his dark-haired lover entry. He reached up, pulled the larger man down to him. Napoleon forced himself up, poised above him on both hands.

"Now, who's the impatient one?" Napoleon teased.

Illya was beyond being teased. "Napoleon..."

Napoleon laughed, low. More kisses flowed down the fine neck. When the full mouth took one small nipple and sucked hard Illya's hips arched off the bed. Napoleon ignored him, transferred his attention to the other nipple. By small decrees his hand made it's way down to Illya's groin, toyed with the impossibly white hair. Illya trust up again.

"Napoleon, please, I want you."

Napoleon was unrelenting, rubbing his hand once more across Illya's stomach before tracing a finger along the length of his shaft. Moving a little with each kiss Napoleon worked his way down the impatient body at his command. With a devilish smile he glanced up at his partner, rubbed his cheek against the straining organ.

Illya cried out, took his lip between his teeth and fought back against the sensations racing through his blood. He could not remember ever feeling this way. He looked down at the dark-haired man doing this to him. The look of happiness on Napoleon's face brought a sudden lurch to his heart. It had never felt this way, he realized because he had never loved the person who shared his bed. Protectiveness, love and fear rushed through him like a drug. He sat up, reached for Napoleon.

Napoleon shook his head, he had seen the emotions flickering across the Russian normally calm face. "No, let me."

Illya lay back. There would be time later for words. For now he wanted, needed to see Napoleon happy, content. He knew that Napoleon needed this as much as he did; to prove his partner's existence to himself. Illya's hands, smoothed across the damp forehead, tangled themselves in the dark, short hair.

Napoleon moved, took Illya deep into his throat in one slow move. A tongue swirled around the shaft, warm breath stirred the hair at the base, tickled ever so faintly. One hand stayed on Illya's chest, rubbed the sensitive nipples. The other slipped between him and the bed, kneaded the tight ass.

Illya moaned again. "Napoleon..."

The tongue pulled back, teeth barely touched the skin, lips tightened around him, moving up and down easily, pulled the spring tighter with each move. Illya lay back, tried to control, tried to lay still but as the sucking grew harder his restraint vaporized. The hand under him brushed along the cleft between his buttocks, found the thin opening, rubbed. Illya arched up silently begging for more, forced himself deeper into Napoleon's hot mouth.

The spring was as tight as it would wind. When Napoleon's finger pushed slowly into his body it snapped. Illya surged up, shuddered, yelled his partner's name, the words dying out to a breathless moan. The room grew sunlight bright before fading to a white mist. From somewhere in the far distance he heard a moan echo his own. When the world faded back in Napoleon was laying next to him, watching him intently, laughing gently.

It took him a minute to get enough air back in his lungs to ask seriously, "What is so funny?"

The laughter disappeared but the smile stayed. "Nothing. I was thinking about how beautiful you are."

Illya pulled them together. He remembered the moan. "Napoleon, did you..."

Bright eyes crinkled around the edges. "I think I blew the picture off the wall."

This amazed, scared Illya. "I excite you that much? That doing it to me gets you off?" Napoleon kissed him thoroughly by way of reply.

Something serious settled in around them. Napoleon rubbed Illya's throat. "You were wrong about what you said last night."

Illya frowned, looked vaguely worried. "What?"

"It's not over. There will be tests, questions. I have to prove myself to them all over again. And what's between us now, we'll have to face that as well."

Illya heard the worry in Napoleon's voice. He kissed the man, ran his tongue over suddenly dry lips. "It doesn't matter. We'll face it the same as we do everything else, together."

Napoleon lay his head back on the strong shoulder, tugged at the hair on his chest. "Just want you to know what you're getting into."

"You, later." Illya quipped, unsure of who was more shocked, him or Napoleon. He kissed the top of Napoleon's head, ran his fingers through the silky hair. He was sure he would never get tried of doing that, of doing anything with this man he had dragged kicking and screaming back to the world.

"You can say it now, Napoleon, any time you like, or not at all if it's easier. Either way..."

"I love you, Illya."

"I know."