The Playtime's Over Affair
by
Rosemary
(Sequel to the Post Gurnius Affair and The Games People Play Affair)


The corridor was like thousands Napoleon Solo had encountered. Institution green walls, sterile off white linoleum, swinging hospital doors...it looked like any lab or clinic, nothing out of the ordinary.

Except for the fact that this particular lab sat alone in a barren stretch of Arizona desert seventy-three miles out of Phoenix. Beyond the windows, saguaro cacti stretched their forked arms towards the scorching sun, rattlesnakes and scorpions scurried across the parched ground, coyote and hawk hunted. Aside from this one out of place structure, there was no sign of man's presence for a good twenty-three miles, not even so much as a road, as Solo's sore butt could attest – the suspension on the rented jeep was shot to hell.

At the moment, there appeared to be as little evidence of human habitation within the THRUSH lab's walls as without. His footsteps echoed eerily through the empty corridors. Room after empty room revealed how rapid the evacuation had been. Half-filled coffee cups abandoned on desks still decorated with family portraits, expensive equipment and half finished experiments left behind, stock rooms filled to capacity...from the look of things, he'd missed the mass exodus by mere hours.

And still no sign of Illya...

Solo's hand tightened on the grip of his weapon at a sudden sound. Recognizing the familiar beeping, he relaxed and withdrew his pen communicator from his suit's inner pocket. "Open Channel D. Solo here."

"Mr. Solo," Alexander Waverly's sleepy voice emerged big as life from the tiny pen, "what is your present status?"

"Well, I've located the installation, sir. However, our THRUSH friends have moved house again. Looks like I just missed them."

"And Mr. Kuryakin?" Waverly asked the question that had been screaming through Solo's worried mind since he'd lost contact with his friend last night. "Any sign of him?"

"Not yet, sir," Napoleon uneasily replied. Illya had ventured here yesterday evening before sunset on a simple reconnaissance mission and hadn't been heard from since.

"You're certain the remains of the jeep you discovered were empty?" U.N.C.L.E.'s controller questioned.

Solo's stomach tightened as the image of that burnt out metallic shell flashed through his thoughts. It had still been smoking when Napoleon came upon it.

"Positive. There was no sign of a body. But there was evidence of a scuffle near the crash site." Solo eyed the doors to the only room he hadn't investigated yet. "My guess is that they took Illya with them. I've only got one room left to check. Maybe that will tell us something."

Napoleon was not allowing himself to consider the most obvious explanation as to what fate had befallen his partner when Illya was caught checking out this top secret installation. The idea of capture wasn't pleasant, but it beat the only other alternative.

"I'm going in now," Solo told his boss, going to great pains to keep his tone normal.

It was getting harder and harder of late for Napoleon to keep up his business-as-usual facade in situations like this. Everything had changed for him since San Rico. Before the Gurnius op, he'd always cared for Illya as a friend and done his best to safeguard his partner's life, but now...everything was different.

When Illya went missing these days, a sick sense of dread would lodge in Solo's innards. That cold fear would take a chokehold on his heart and not let up until Illya was safe and sound again. It hadn't interfered with his ability to perform his duty yet, but Napoleon knew he was too involved, too attached.

Too attached...to a man who still wouldn't allow him to return his touches. It was times like this that Napoleon realized how truly perverted their little games were. With the type of work they did, either of them could be snuffed out without a moment's notice. Then what would the survivor have left? Memories of a bare handful of one-sided encounters, hot, sexy interludes that teased and tantalized with their never realized promise of what could be between them if only...

If only Illya would let them be real lovers.

The erotic games which had begun in that San Rico hotel room were still being played by the Ice King's rules. For fear of losing what little they had, Solo was forced to take only what Illya deigned to give him: don't touch, don't push, don't talk about it...there were more 'don'ts' than 'do's' in this on-again, off-again relationship. They'd been together what – ten , eleven times now? Not once had they climaxed in each other's arms or pressed their naked, aroused bodies close together.

Solo was getting tired of it. He understood his partner's reservations, Illya's fears of being used and discarded, but...life was just too damn short to put anything this important off. Illya could very well be dead now, and he would have died without Napoleon's once having the chance to show his partner how very important he was to him.

"Mr. Solo, what is happening?" Waverly's voice called him back to the present.

"Nothing, sir. I was just...checking my ammo," Solo covered. "I'm going in now."

Napoleon paused outside the swinging doors, struck by a sudden foreboding. THRUSH wasn't going to move house and simply leave a prisoner behind. Solo knew that he was going to find either another empty room...or a dead body.

Praying for the former, he pushed through the doors...freezing as his worst nightmares were realized.

This room was another lab, only this one was walled with computers and mysterious apparatus. The only thing out of place in its sterile confines was the naked dead man hanging from manacles in the center of the room. Illya hung there limp and lifeless as a discarded rag doll. His chin rested against his chest at an awkward angle. His longish blond hair dangled in front of his face. Illya was so frighteningly still. His flesh looked unnaturally pale – corpse white...

The dead body gave a sudden start. Illya's knees straightened to support his own weight as the down bent head lifted to peer around the room. Curious blue eyes turned Solo's direction.

"What took you so long?" Illya testily demanded as Napoleon's communicator simultaneously asked, "Mr. Solo, did you find..?"

"Yes, sir." Napoleon grinned, almost sagging with relief. "The only damage appears to be to his dignity."

"Very good. Our Mexican branch reports some suspicious activity in their sector. It's suspected your THRUSH friends have moved south. We've booked transportation for you. Mr. Kuryakin and yourself will coordinate with our Mexico City branch at 3 p.m. tomorrow."

"What do you want us to do till then, sir?" Napoleon inquired, impressed as ever with their boss' cold-blooded efficiency. Thirty seconds ago Waverly hadn't even known Illya was still alive. Now, a bare half-minute later, Illya was not only an active player in the equation again, he was booked on a flight out. Only Alexander Waverly had that kind of style.

"Rest. You'll both need your strength. And see to it that Mr. Kuryakin receives whatever medical attention he needs."

"Yes, sir."

"Waverly out."

"Close Channel D," Solo broke off communication. After deactivating his pen, he replaced it in his jacket's inner lapel pocket and advanced into the lab, a smile spreading across his entire face as he basked in his partner's well being. "Please don't take this question wrong, but why aren't you dead?"

"It wasn't for want of trying, I assure you," Illya informed. "They erred as most of their ilk do, in their arrogance."

"Ey?" Solo asked.

Illya's pointy chin gestured up at where his wrists were bound above his head.

Now that he was closer, Solo could see that a suspicious black box had been attached to the chains about two feet above the manacles. "What's that?"

"The detonator of a rather insidious device. I was to be electrocuted an hour after our friends from THRUSH cleared out. The electric charge was also designed to overload the computer and burn out its memory banks." Illya explained, his droll tone belied by the smug trace of amusement coloring his features.

"You mean..." Solo paused, nonplused. Not even THRUSH would be so inefficient as to leave operating computers behind. His gaze ran over the walls of machinery, realizing that this was no penny-ante operation here.

"Precisely," Illya confirmed, as close to gleeful as the contained Russian got. "We have it all. Think of it, Napoleon – research projects, personnel files, locations of THRUSH headquarters...that trip to Mexico may not be necessary. Once we convert all this, we can simply tell head quarters where to pick up Dr. Arons."

Stunned, it took Solo a moment to digest their coup, and somewhat longer to voice the natural questions, "Why did they put the detonator up there?"

"I believe Dr. Arons is the unfortunate victim of too much American television," Illya reported, the superior air that always provoked Solo's irritation settling over him. It was absurd, really. Illya was trussed up like a carcass in a Chicago slaughterhouse, entirely helpless. Yet, he was lecturing as if he stood before a gaggle of adoring college students.

"What?" Napoleon questioned the apparent non sequitur.

"I believe that this melodramatic set up was a plot device in an episode of BATMAN that you were watching while we were in Akron last month."

Having no recollection of Batman hanging naked from the rafters, as it were, Solo denied, "I was not watching that tomfoolery."

Illya gave a passable shrug, no easy feat while hanging from one's wrists. "Have it your way. However, Dr. Arons appears to have drawn his inspiration from such sources. He placed the detonator up there so that it would be close enough for me to watch the minutes tick away without my glasses."

"How did you disable it?" Solo asked. Although the detonator might be ridiculously close to its intended victim, it was still a good two feet outside of most men's reach.

But, as Solo had learned years ago, Illya Nicovetch Kuryakin was no normal man, as Illya's nonchalant reply confirmed.

"With my feet."

Illya apparently was not joking.

"Your feet?" Solo parroted.

"Napoleon, no doubt you find all of this fascinating, and I do promise to appease your curiosity, but...would you mind releasing me?" Illya peevishly demanded. "This might be the desert, but I can assure you, this room is quite chilly."

Solo stared at Illya's bare feet on the no doubt freezing linoleum, studiously ignoring all of his partner's other bare assets.

"Yes, of course." He belatedly stepped up close enough to free his friend.

Solo reached for the manacles suspended over both of their heads, trying to get an idea of how they were locked. Key? Bolt? Magnetic lock?

He was feeling along the cold metal's seam when Illya appeared to temporarily lose his balance and stumble against him.

Small wonder. This was hardly the most comfortable of positions to have spent the night in, Solo acknowledged. The fact that Illya's wrists weren't mangled was a testament to his partner's patience.

"Ummpf... sorry, Napoleon."

It was only as he felt Illya's hard, sinewy form bump against every inch of his front that Napoleon became physically aware of their positions. Illya, stark naked, bound by these very efficient chains...entirely at his mercy.

The world seemed to come to an abrupt stop, remained frozen for an indeterminate time before making a turn on its axis and spinning off in a completely new direction.

Solo halted, realizing in that instant that all the rules had changed. A whole new ball game had just begun.

"Napoleon?" Illya questioned, obviously puzzled by the delay and Solo's lack of motion, "Are you all right?"

"Mmmm...yes." Solo took a step back, needing some breathing and thinking room. This game was going to be far more difficult. Every instinct Napoleon owned was telling him that Illya would be an unwilling player.

"Couldn't you open the lock?" Illya asked, straining his neck back to stare up at the manacles.

"Yes, I suppose I could, if that was what I wanted. The question is – is that what I really want?"

"Napoleon, what are you...?" The exasperated question cut off, Illya tensing in sudden understanding. As if composing himself, Illya continued to gaze up at his wrists for a minute. When at last he deigned to look at Napoleon, his stare was pure blue ice, an arctic blast that would wither even the hottest of suitors.

Solo had passed hot almost eleven months ago. Like the heart of a gas giant, the fire in his blood wouldn't be quelled until the passion blasted itself to pieces.

"We are in a public place," Illya icily reminded.

Solo gave an outright snort at the preposterous argument. "We're twenty-three miles from the nearest paved road. If that's the best you can do, my friend..." he shrugged.

"I do not consent to this. Release me immediately," Illya snapped, at his most imperious.

"Or?" Solo purred, beginning to really enjoy himself.

"What?" Illya looked bewildered.

"That's what I'm asking you. Release you or...? You're at a marked disadvantage here, my controlling young friend." An odd, erotic thrill coursed through Solo as he saw the Adam's apple in Illya's long, elegant throat bob.

"Please, Napoleon, this is not funny."

"No," Solo interrupted, "it's not. The strait you've driven me to is downright pathetic. Do you realize if they'd killed you, you would have died without my once ever having touched you...loved you?"

"This is not about love," Illya denied.

"No," Solo sadly agreed, "it's not about love because you've never allowed our roles to be equal enough to claim that title. Your control games have been sexy as hell, but up until now they've been terribly one sided. I think that it's about time that you found out what it feels like to be on the receiving end of one of your little games."

"This is no game," Illya argued, each syllable as sharp and cutting as a whiplash. "And it most certainly is not love. What you are contemplating is...rape."

"Rape?" Solo nearly laughed at the absurd accusation. Even now he could see Illya's shaft hardening and filling with blood. "How is this any different than what you've done to me all these months, tovarisch?"

He reached out to stroke Illya's pale cheek.

Illya jerked his head back to avoid the touch.

"It is different in that you always had the option of refusing my advances."

"Refusing you? After you'd gotten me so hot that I'd screw a rock? You knew exactly when to time your games, knew when I was the most vulnerable," Solo accused, his pride still smarting from all those times he hadn't had the strength to turn away, when he'd taken Illya on his perverse terms, despite his resolve to insist on a more equal relationship.

"I never tied you up and forced you!" Illya protested.

"I didn't tie you up. I merely found you that way...and pressed my advantage," Solo insisted.

Illya glanced away and bit his lip. "You would...take me against my will?"

The genuine, tremulous note, so underplayed as to be almost undetectable, stabbed at Solo's conscience. What was he doing? You didn't play these kinds of games with your partner, not if you wanted to keep breathing.

Yet, the resentment engendered by almost twelve months of Illya's power plays wouldn't allow him to walk away from this opportunity. He'd wanted Illya so badly this past year that he could taste the desire. Even now the subtle musk and dried sweat of his captive partner's body sent his senses spinning like some exotic aphrodisiac.

"No," Napoleon slowly promised, "I won't take you against your will."

"Then you'll release me?" Illya asked with a heart wrenching blend of hope and suspicion.

"No," Solo shook his head. "I won't release you yet, but...I won't take you against your will."

With that, Solo trailed his fingertips down the center of the shockingly underdeveloped chest.

"Don't!" Illya commanded.

Solo ignored the caution, his other hand reaching for the shimmering fall of blond hair. The beauty of that rumpled cascade was uncanny. The lights overhead were simple fluorescent, the same as in U.N.C.L.E. labs. Illya's hair shouldn't shine the way it did, like molten gold bubbling in some fairy cauldron.

Illya once again tried to jerk his head away to avoid the touch, but he could move only so far, bound as he was.

Napoleon's fingers dug deep into the silken cascade, carding through its soft length.

Illya's head turned away, hiding his face behind his right biceps, as if unable to bear whatever was in Solo's eyes. Napoleon's fingers slipped from hair to neck before softly petting the unfamiliar, stiff blond curls at his partner's left arm pit.

Illya loosed a choked off gasp, his breath quickening.

Solo's other hand fingered Illya's right nipple, feeling it turn to stone at his very first touch. An instant later, Napoleon's head lowered to sample its flavor.

Illya strangled a cry as Solo tongued the hard pink bud. "Napoleon...I beg you...stop, please..."

"That isn't what I want you to beg me for." Solo silkily murmured against the satin smooth chest, feeling the shivers even the touch of his breath engendered.

Illya jerked almost frantically, his right knee making a calculated thrust for Napoleon's genitals.

Having expected this move the moment he'd laid hands on his friend, Solo calmly intercepted the knee and jerked it up, simultaneously sweeping Illya's supporting leg out from under him.

"Ummphf..." Illya cried out in discomfort as his manacled wrists brought him up short in his fall.

To ease his partner's distress while driving home their very separate positions, Napoleon caught the other leg and lifted. Insinuating himself between Illya's widespread thighs, Solo's hips now supported the bulk of his partner's weight.

"Please don't try that again." Napoleon calmly requested, bending forward to nuzzle that porcelain throat. Pleased, he felt those athletic thighs clamp around him as his partner unconsciously accepted his support.

Illya's conscious mind, however, was still resisting him tooth and nail, figuratively, if not quite literally yet.

"Or?" Kuryakin breathily challenged, something in his eyes seeming to ask if Solo were willing to back his request with a physical threat.

Napoleon's teeth took hold of a nearby earlobe, infinitesimally increasing the pressure. Illya's resulting, sharp hiss was mostly one of pleasure. Solo made sure that he never came close to hurting. "Just don't. Please."

His hands groped up the back of Illya's athletic thighs, looking for a more comfortable position of support. Eventually, he ended up cupping the pear shaped cheeks of the small ass. His first experimental squeeze earned him a legitimate whimper.

"Napoleon..." It was meant as a protest, Solo knew, but the name came out more as a sigh.

Sensing that the danger of being seriously bitten was past, Napoleon did what he'd longed to from his first touch and took his partner's mouth, kissing long and deep.

At first his captive partner didn't respond to him, but Illya seemed incapable of resisting the open tenderness of his lips. It wasn't fair, Napoleon thought as he delved into the somewhat dry depths once Illya's initial resistance to the kiss melted away. Illya had been hanging here over night. His mouth should have tasted like a pair of old gym socks. But aside from the dryness, he still tasted fantastic to him.

Solo's entire universe rocked as he felt his friend thirstily suck some of the saliva from his mouth. In its own way, that faintly kinky act struck him as being far more intimate than when Illya had sucked him off all those times.

His fingers dug deep into the soft mounds they supported, squeezing. Solo caught the resulting groan in his mouth.

Illya gasped almost as if in shock as they parted. The wariness had finally left Illya's eyes. Their blue was no longer arctic ice. Rather, his gaze now glittered with a hot, unfocused quality which Solo had only seen in the past when Illya was about to suck him off. The slender rib cage was now panting for every breath, Illya watching him in anxious expectation.

"That's better," Napoleon approved.

Illya winced and squeezed his eyes shut, biting his lower lip as if unable to avoid some horrible ordeal. But the effect was spoiled as Napoleon's groping hand charted the bumpy ridge of spine. Those full pink lips parted in a silent 'ooohh' of sensual appreciation.

Somewhat restricted by their awkward position, Solo gently unclamped Illya's thighs from around his waist and carefully set Illya back on his feet. Before Illya could draw any clarity from the move, Napoleon's lips fastened on one of the pink nipples, sucking eagerly.

Illya was openly moaning as his fully clothed partner kissed, sucked and nuzzled down the smooth chest and solar plexus to the tender whiteness of the lower belly.

Tonguing the shallow naval, Solo smiled against Illya's trim tummy as his partner's cock impatiently nudged at his cleft chin.

Wanting to get a good look at his friend, Solo cut off his ministrations and sank back onto his knees, giving a back sore from too much bending a desperately needed rest. Trying to be objective, he took a good, long look at his partner's sex.

Napoleon wasn't accustomed to thinking of another man's genitals in aesthetic terms. Even now, after almost a full year of wanting, it still felt terribly strange to actually be touching Illya intimately, but it was a strangeness to which Solo knew he'd grow addicted.

Illya was very well endowed for his stature. His balls were full and heavy, the soft pliable sacs the most luscious shade of pink. The wiry blond pubic hair was almost an artistic contrast to his testicles. While his cock...

Solo gulped as he scanned the hungry flesh. Illya's shaft was an impressive length, bold and demanding as Illya himself. His partner was oddly pale there, six, perhaps seven inches of pinkish-white manhood. It was only at the uncircumcised tip that the penis' color deepened to a healthy, sanguine, cherry red. Staring at the crown, which was flaring in its need, Napoleon was struck by both the sheer power of the organ and its absurd vulnerability.

"Napoleon...please..." Illya rasped, his slender hips thrusting at his spellbound partner.

Realizing how painful the delay must be, and secretly pleased to hear his friend actually ask him to continue, Solo took mercy on his partner.

"Yes, of course...forgive me. You're just so...damn beautiful..." Solo murmured.

He reached out both hands, his fingertips gently trailing down the inside of those golden-fuzzed thighs.

Illya emitted a strangled cry, hips bucking up at Solo, "Please...Napasha...please..."

"Napasha, huh?" Solo sampled the name, keeping up the stroking, wanting to drive the other man completely wild. "Is that how you think of me? It's a form of endearment, isn't it?"

Illya's eyes squeezed shut again, almost in dread. He gave a sharp, affirmative nod, his features torn with passion.

"A love name, is it?" Napoleon questioned, part of him still trying to figure out just what Illya truly wanted from him behind all the screens of denial and power games.

"If you like..." Illya grated out from behind clenched teeth.

"Oh, I like, never doubt that, my friend," Solo smoothly assured, deciding to up the ante. "In fact, Illya...I more than like."

The gasp Illya gave came before Napoleon's lips replaced his trailing fingers on the hairy inner thigh.

Napoleon nuzzled up and down the inside of both thighs, ignoring the cock that kept butting demandingly against his brow or cheek whenever his face came within range. The tiny, mewling noises his normally stoic partner couldn't hold in were worth the delay. But eventually, the extended foreplay became too much for even Solo to bear.

The scent of Illya's musk was stronger down here, growing with Illya's arousal. The utter masculinity of the smell should have put him off, but Napoleon found the heady aroma incredibly exciting. It played through his senses as strongly as the intoxicating feel of that velvet skin beneath his hands.

Time seemed to stop as Solo at last lifted his head, his gaze focusing on the desperate, ignored cock.

Illya's breath seemed to catch in his chest. Napoleon heard the sudden intake of air, then no other sound. Only the pounding of his own heart followed and the heat of Illya's gaze digging into his face.

Gathering the straining shaft into his palm for the very first time should have felt awkward, but to Napoleon it was like a homecoming. Illya fit his hand so comfortably, so perfectly, as if their bodies had been designed for each other.

Illya's gasp as he finally released the in-held breath ruffled Solo's hair.

Napoleon cautiously investigated his new prize, his explorations eliciting a pleasing variety of vocalizations from above. Since most of what Illya was saying appeared to be in Russian, he had no idea of its translation, but the guttural tone carried the meaning quite effectively.

Recognizing an especially graphic curse word, Solo smiled sweetly up at his friend, "I love you, too, Illya."

It was as if Solo had thrown some kind of a switch, so immediate was the reaction.

"Don't!" Illya commanded, his body freezing up.

Having thought his partner beyond English, if not coherency, Solo curiously asked, "Don't what, Illya?"

"Don't...tell me lies. Just get on with it."

"You think I'm lying to you?" Solo demanded, stung by the accusation

Illya looked away, refusing to meet his gaze.

"Illya..?" He nearly pleaded for a response.

After an endless time, his partner looked down at him, Illya's expression completely unreadable.

"It doesn't matter. Just...get on with it." Illya sounded like he was undergoing the most odious ordeal known to man.

"Don't, please..." Napoleon couldn't believe how much the rejection hurt. He'd thought that he was finally getting through, that Illya had moved beyond his reservations enough to enjoy his touch.

"I asked you that before and you ignored my pleas. This is your game. Finish what you've started, Napoleon Solo," Illya commanded.

Solo flinched at the cold, angry tone of the words, unable to believe this was happening. A minute ago, they'd both been enjoying this and then, whammo, Kuryakin the Ice King was back in all his frigid splendor.

Something very fragile inside Solo, the deep buried place where he hid the last vestiges of his romantic illusions, shattered under the Ice King's merciless freeze. He felt like a kid on Christmas morning after an older brother maliciously revealed that Santa Claus was just a myth. All the magic was suddenly dead. He wasn't making love to Illya. With sudden clarity, Solo realized that he was just forcing his attentions upon someone who'd rather be off playing with a microscope or computer.

Damn, the cold blooded bastard, Solo cursed, almost hating Illya at that moment.

Napoleon gazed down at the pulsing cock he still held cradled in his palms...hating the weakness in his heart that still made him want to caress and cherish the hungry flesh. After that deliberate cruelty, Illya deserved...

With great effort, Napoleon mastered the rage that made him want to beat the tar out of this unfeeling imitation of a human being.

The very first thing Napoleon had learned about Illya Kuryakin when they were initially partnered was that the scientific Russian had a reason for everything he did. Illya didn't react out of anger or hurt without reason. Unlike many agents with whom Solo had been partnered over the years, there were no acts of senseless violence with Illya. Even when an angry or hurtful response was justified, the quiet Russian was usually refrained, using only the minimum of force necessary to subdue. And no matter how angry they might have been at each other over the years, Illya had never deliberately hurt him as he had today.

His anger fading to puzzled hurt, Solo sought understanding.

As difficult as Illya often was, the man wasn't crazy. At the moment, his partner was completely at his mercy, utterly vulnerable. Napoleon could do absolutely anything to him, and Illya would be powerless to stop him. Why would Illya purposefully antagonize him at such a defenseless moment? Surely, he must realize how angry the cold dismissal of his feelings had made him...

Of course, Illya knew how angry he was. Napoleon abruptly recognized that that had been the point. The little bastard was still manipulating him. Even trussed up like a pig for slaughter, Illya was still calling the shots.

But why make him angry? It didn't make any sense at all... until Solo recalled what he'd said to his partner right before the Ice King's emergence.

He'd told Illya that he loved him, at a time when Illya was most vulnerable to belief.

Could that be it, Napoleon wondered, staring up at the close guarded, handsome face. Was Illya so terrified of allowing himself to...need him that he'd risk the dire consequences of his ire simply to hide his feelings?

Napoleon wanted to deny the suggestion, but Illya was watching him as if he expected him to twist his cock off in physical retaliation for the emotional hurt he'd knowingly inflicted.

Christ.

Solo thought fast, having no clue as to how he should proceed. He was so disgusted with the twisted tactic that he just wanted to get up and walk away. Leave the Ice King hanging here with his balls tangled in knots for a few hours...

Only, that was a cruelty beyond him. Even on the most frustrating nights of sexual teasing, Illya had never walked away from him or denied him release. Illya might have called all the shots and forbidden him to share the softer moments his soul ached for the most, but Illya had never failed to bring him off.

Napoleon supposed he could use Illya's own methods. A quick hand job, then back to business. Illya was on the point of popping right now. It wouldn't take much more in the way of stimulation, only...

Napoleon didn't want to perpetuate this sick game. He wanted it finished, once and for all. He wanted Illya for his lover, wanted to have the right to touch him every night, wanted to feel climax take them both while tangled tight in a naked embrace...

Abruptly, Napoleon knew what he was going to do.

"Napoleon?" Illya worriedly questioned as Solo completely released his flesh and rose to his feet. "What are you...don't leave me...Napasha, no..." Illya practically begged as Napoleon stepped away from him, abandonment obviously not something the Ice King had anticipated.

Pleased by the desperate reaction, Solo moved behind his partner, outside of Illya's line of vision.

There was a counter over there where he could leave his clothes...

"Napoleon? What are you doing? Come back...please?"

Solo stripped down, leaving his clothing neatly piled beside some Petri dishes someone had been in the process of preparing before flight. Only five of the two dozen had any clear gel at the bottom. None of them looked like they'd had any specimens added, so fast was the evacuation.

Depositing his last sock on the clothes pile, Solo turned towards his friend.

Illya was craning his neck around, trying to see behind him. "Napoleon, are you still here? That back door leads only to a supply cabinet. If you want to leave, you'll have to..."

"I've no intention of leaving...or abandoning you on the edge like this," Solo whispered from less than a foot behind his friend.

"What is this then – revenge? Will you make me beg...?" Illya was no longer straining to see him. As if aware of how much he'd already given away with his anxious response to Solo's apparent abandonment, Illya was staring firmly ahead. But at Solo's sensual whisper, Illya's spine straightened, his buttocks tensing until a pucker had formed in each of the snowy globes.

Hypnotized by the sight of the gently rounded butt, Solo gave a mute shake of his head, belatedly realizing that his partner couldn't see him.

"No," he muttered, recalling something Illya had said to him during that very first massage in that San Rico hotel room almost a year ago, "I just remembered that you had a whole other side."

Solo trailed his index finger slowly down the tensed spine, grinning at the pleased hiss. Illya's brain might not want this, but his body sure as hell did. It was going to work.

Determining to ignore everything his partner might say to discourage him, Solo silently stepped closer.

He could feel the heat pouring off his partner's body, could almost feel Illya's state of enhanced tension as he sensed his nearness. Solo's cock twitched with excitement, growing larger.

"Napoleon?" Illya called in a subdued tone, shifting nervously.

So close now that he could smell the faded sweetness of his partner's shampoo, Napoleon leaned forward to breathe into a gold fringed ear. "I like it better when you call me 'Napasha'."

"Napoleon, what..?"

Illya gasped as Solo's lips fastened on his throat and then, released a strangled moan as the tip of Napoleon's circumcised cock nudged at his buttocks.

"Mmmm?" Solo murmured. Taking hold of his own shaft, he guided the head back and forth across the cool, living velvet of his partner's ass. The delight even that small act brought him jumped along his nerve endings like wildfire, melting through him until his joy was seeping out the slit in his cock in the form of big clear droplets of preseminal fluid.

"What are you doing?" Illya demanded, sounding what Solo would call panicked were this any other man.

"I think that should be obvious even to you," Solo purred, outlining the curve of one sleek globe, his cock head trailing the gentle slope up the cleft, brushing over places he'd only imagined touching in his darkest dreams.

Illya hissed at the contact and tried to jerk away.

Solo slipped his right hand around Illya's front, collected the turgid flesh and gave a calculated squeeze. As planned, Illya's hips bucked back at him, the move bumping Solo's shaft hard into the cleft.

The angle was off. Solo was a bit too tall for the full effect, but feeling those hot cheeks surround his throbbing cock put ideas in his head that he never would have allowed himself to consciously consider in cold, sane blood.

And it had been some time since he'd been able to claim either. Illya had driven him so far beyond his normal limits. This need was beyond caution, beyond reason. Illya burned in his blood like an addiction. At this point, Napoleon would risk almost anything to sate it.

He pressed even more of his weight against his partner. Leaning down, he nuzzled the milky throat, making sure the steamy fall of his breath caused the same shivers in his partner to which Napoleon himself was so susceptible.

"Tell me, my cool Russian beauty, has anyone ever touched you here before?" Solo rocked his hips, sliding his weeping cockhead over the tight guarded ring of muscle.

Ahhh..."

"Is that a yes?" Napoleon purred, purposefully misinterpreting.

"No...no, of course, no one ever...Napoleon...stop this madness now..." There was only an edge of fear in the tone. Illya's voice was so gruff with arousal that it was barely recognizable.

Napoleon wasn't sure how far he intended to carry this bluff, but right now he was having too much fun to stop. "Good. It excites me that no one's touched you here before, that I'm the first...my sweet, golden virgin."

Napoleon hadn't been sure how Illya would respond to words, but the quiver that coursed through the tensed form told him that he was on the right track. Illya might mock his technique, but his partner was as susceptible to those gilded words as the scores of women who'd fallen under the spell of his golden tongue.

"Napoleon..." Illya openly begged, the cock Solo was working expanding to truly impressive proportions.

"`NAPASHA'. Say it. `Napasha'," Solo commanded, bending slightly at the knees and then straightening up for the desired effect. The spongy head of his penis made solid contact with the dry ring of Illya's anus. "Say it," he ordered over Illya's helpless moan.

"Na Napasha..." Illya gasped out.

"Good, very good." Solo moved his cock back from it threatening position. Up front, he released Illya's shaft, his hands rubbing up the flat stomach and chest to capture both of Illya's nipples. He gave a simultaneous, sharp squeeze to each.

Illya bucked wildly back at him, releasing a shout.

"Do you like that, Illyusha?" He nibbled the sensitive spot behind Illya's ear, not sure if the resulting shudders were a result of his action or the use of the diminutive form of his partner's name.

"You...know that I do," Illya grated out.

"Do you like this?" Solo rocked his hips again, grinding into the beautiful ass.

"Ahhhh...."

Solo pressed his shaft harder into the cleft. "Answer me. Do you like it?"

Solo didn't really expect a response. He'd seen Illya take torture for upwards of two hours. Illya would usually faint from the pain before breaking. However, this time the response came immediately, a desolate, "yesss..." that seemed to be ripped from the very depths of his partner's soul.

"Good." Taking mercy on his friend, Napoleon let up a little. If he didn't, this was going to turn out to be a hell of a lot more than simple bluff. As it was, he was walking the thin line of control.

Stepping back a bit, he kissed around Illya's neck, nuzzling his way down the bony spine. As he sank to his knees, Solo's hands came to rest on the soft mounds.

Illya's ass was so perfect, so incredibly touchable, Napoleon reflected as he stroked the peachy smoothness.

Illya cried out as Napoleon squeezed his butt cheeks together, mumbling, "Napasha" over and over again as Solo bent to kiss and nuzzle the velvet mounds. He playfully nibbled the tender flesh, causing excited cries from above.

"Please...Napasha...please... pojaloosta..." Illya fell into his native tongue as his head tossed restlessly back and forth, a victim of his desire.

"Please what?" Solo rasped, ready to explode himself.

"Anything...anything you want...just, touch me...please?"

The surrender was more than Napoleon could have hoped for. To hear his partner openly beg for his touch...

Napoleon gloried in the victory a moment before acquiescing, "And where would you like me to touch you – here?" His right hand groped around the front to give Illya's throbbing shaft a tentative squeeze, pulling back as it jerked in response. "Or perhaps here?" he suggested, his fingers slipping between the smooth cheeks to brush over Illya's hidden rectum.

Illya's gasp was one of pure, carnal shock.

Emboldened, Napoleon's middle finger rimmed the tight circle, feeling it twitch almost nervously.

Illya's body froze, every ounce of his concentration seeming to be focused on what Solo's finger was doing in that forbidden territory.

"More," Illya gruffly commanded when Napoleon hesitated at actual penetration.

A little teasing was one thing, Napoleon thought, overcome by a sudden nervousness. This was getting a touch too heavy for him. "You can't want me to..."

"More," Illya repeated in a tone that would brook no argument.

Knowing better than to just plunge in dry, Solo withdrew his hand, bringing it to his mouth to wet his fingertips. Saliva wasn't much of a lubricant, but it would have to do for now. His nose fastidiously wrinkled as the telltale scent on his skin told him precisely where those fingertips had been.

Jolted into sanity, Napoleon experienced a moment's panic.

What the hell was he doing? This was going too far...

"Napoleon?"

Solo was nearly afraid to continue. In all the controlling, sexy games Illya had played with him over the past eleven months, there had never been any penetration. His partner never touched any further back than his balls. If Napoleon did this, he knew he'd be moving things to a different level. However, no amount of worry could compete with the fire burning in his loins. Faced with that ravaging lust, there was really no choice...or any turning back. For better or worse, he was committed to this course, and determined to go the distance.

Solo's fingers returned to the cleft. Blindly finding his objective, he circled the tight ring, pushing through its center before the saliva could dry.

Illya closed almost painfully around him, crying out in shocked surprise.

Solo waited for the initial reaction to let up, then pressed relentlessly forward, piercing that tight tunnel for the very first time.

It wasn't at all like he'd thought it would be. If Solo had considered this act at all in the past, it had always been with great repugnance. Putting his fingers up someone's rectum just wasn't something the slightly prudish Solo could get too excited about. The reality of the experience, like most realities, was drastically different from his expectations. Nothing could have prepared him for the dark eroticism of the act.

Resting his cheek against the incredible smoothness of his partner's butt, Solo closed his eyes, concentrating every iota of his being upon the feel of that tight channel gripping every inch of his finger.

Napoleon's always active imagination couldn't help but extrapolate on how the virgin tight tunnel would feel around his cock.

His penetrating fingertip, now deep inside his friend, encountered something that felt slightly different than the slick wall of the channel. This was rounder, sort of protrusive. Pressing experimentally against it brought a cry of the sheerest delight from up above.

"Like that?" Solo smiled against the velvet fuzzed butt, figuring out what he must have hit. Illya's extraordinarily favorable reaction made Napoleon regret all the times he'd refused this caress when he'd been with women bold enough and worldly enough to offer it. The sensation must be something out of this world, Solo decided. Illya was panting like a bellows, the ecstasy rapturing his face making him look like he'd died and gone to heaven. All with one single, indelicate touch.

"More?"

Solo probed again, achieving a similar response...and still Illya begged for more.

"Use two fingers," Illya suggested at last.

Napoleon uneasily considered the request. His saliva had long since evaporated. In his opinion, that single finger was pushing the limit so far as penetration without a lubricant went. Illya was already going to be sore as hell from the abrasion. Two fingers, even with saliva, might do damage. "You're too dry. I...don't want to hurt you." He swallowed, ashamed by just how eager he was to continue, lubricant be damned.

"Just do it."

"Not without..." Solo began to refuse, then inspiration struck. "Hold on a minute."

Illya gasped as Napoleon removed his finger from inside him. "Napasha...what..?"

Shaking with need, Solo moved to the counter where he'd left his clothes, dubiously eyeing the source of his inspiration. The Petri dishes were filled with a clear gelatin substance that would have just a little bit of sugar mixed in. He checked carefully to guarantee that the gel hadn't been prepared with any bacterium. It wasn't the most elegant of lubricants, but the strung out Solo grudgingly decided that it would do.

He brought three of the five gel-filled dishes back with him.

Kneeling behind his partner on the cold linoleum, Solo dug his fingers into the first dish's gel and brought the clear burden to Illya's hidden orifice.

"What's that?" Illya demanded as the cool, gooey substance touched his sore entrance.

"Gel from a Petri dish." Solo proudly informed.

"A Petri dish? Rumors of your inventive streak have not been exaggerated." Illya shook with laughter, the reaction cutting off abruptly as both of Solo's fingers penetrated the tight entrance.

Illya's flesh seemed to suck him in. Panting in curtailed need, Solo worked his fingers up inside, pleasuring that secret ecstasy button, scissoring his fingers back and forth to accustom his tight friend to his presence.

"Well?" Illya interrupted at last, his tone strangely accusative.

"Huh?" The dazed Solo blinked up at the ravaged face glowering down at him. Illya was going to have a hell of a crick in his neck from twisting his head around like that.

"This is torture. How long will you make me wait? Or will you demand that I beg for that, as well?" Illya's gaze shied away. Then, as if forcing himself to continue, he freely admitted, "I will beg, if that's what you require of me."

Wondering if he'd stopped understanding his own native language, Solo's passion-dazed mind struggled to understand. "Beg? What are you talking about?"

"The game is yours, Napoleon Solo. Finish what you've begun." Then, as the hardness fled from his features, the Illya that Napoleon had glimpsed only in the floating daze of aftermath emerged, "Please, Napasha. I am only flesh and blood. Your touch is pleasing, but it has long since turned to pain. Claim what you have made your own."

"Claim?" Solo stupidly echoed, "What the devil..."

"It's what you have desired from the start. Do it. Now." Illya grunted as the shocked Solo removed his fingers from deep inside him.

"Illya, I..."

He what? Solo wondered. Didn't want this?

Since that first time in San Rico, this ultimate possession had been Solo's darkest fantasy. But, in light of both their commanding natures, Napoleon had never dreamed that this particular desire would ever be realized...not when Illya left him starving for even so little as a hug.

Although this had not been his original intention, Napoleon was unable to turn away from the offer.

With grim determination, he slathered some of that sticky, clear gel over his own pulsing penis and stood back up.

The logistics of the act momentarily daunted him. With his hands bound above his head like that, Illya couldn't bend over. His partner was too tall for Solo to squat down to take him, and, by the same token, Illya was too short for Solo to accomplish the act while standing.

For a second or two, the frustrated Solo was stumped, then, recalling their earlier play, Napoleon knew what he must do.

When he'd lifted Illya up before when Napoleon himself had still been dressed, Illya's butt had rested right against his groin. Though the position wouldn't be the most comfortable in the world, it would work. That was all that mattered to him at the moment.

Illya's eyes widened in puzzlement as Solo moved around to the front. "Napoleon?"

Faced with that endearing bewilderment, Napoleon finally did what he'd been longing to for a year now. He wrapped his arms around Illya's neck, pressed their naked fronts tight together and deeply kissed his gasping partner. The feel of all that bare, hot flesh against his own, the forceful press of Illya's demanding cock against his own erection...it was absolute heaven.

Napoleon fed at the perfect mouth until it seemed that they'd come simply from the steamy kiss. When the demands of the flesh became too strong to ignore, his hands slid down Illya's muscular back, over the athletic thighs. Achieving a stable grip, he lifted his companion up, parting the thighs and immediately insinuating himself between them.

The chain links overhead jingled wildly at the sudden action. Illya grunted in pained surprise.

"Can you manage?" Napoleon hoarsely asked, not knowing what he'd do should he receive a negative response.

Illya nodded, gripping the chain overhead in both hands to hold himself up higher and take the pressure off his wrists.

"Good." Although he longed to kiss Illya again, Napoleon couldn't reach his mouth in their present position. Illya's head was up too high.

Napoleon contented himself with laying a trail of nuzzling kisses from one pink bud of nipple to the other.

"Ready?" Solo questioned, his hands sliding up to separate the cheeks of Illya's butt while they both struggled to balance and work around Illya's knobby knees that seemed to be in the way of everything.

Finally, Napoleon settled the problem by guiding the long legs around his waist, so that the powerful thighs gripped him like a steel belt.

A single nod, and Solo moved in.

His cock seemed to know the way by instinct. It bumped up against that sticky, muscular aperture at the very first thrust.

Thinking that he'd been born and lived his entire life only to reach this perfect moment in time, Napoleon carefully pierced the virgin tight portal. The resistance slowed, but didn't stop him.

Illya's initial scream rang through the empty lab, shocking in its volume. The stoic Russian had suffered extremes of torture without a whimper. To hear him scream aloud like that... the pain would have to be incredible.

"Do you want me to stop?" Napoleon grated out.

"No...just...go slow, please..." Illya grunted, his gaze bright with pain.

Nodding, Napoleon froze, doing his best to keep his balance while remaining completely still in the strained position. If he lost his grip on Illya, his partner would be unable to support his own weight at the difficult angle. The resulting impalement would be immediate and agonizing.

When he felt the clamping ring of anus loosen its terrified grip a little, he eased gradually in. The reality of Illya around him was more exquisite than any late night fantasy Solo had dreamed up over the lonely months of longing for the impossible. The heat was searing, the grip of that virgin flesh so tight as to be almost painful.

That it was nothing but painful to his friend was obvious from the beads of sweat that had dewed the pale flesh and Illya's deep, bellows-like struggle for air. It hurt Napoleon to think that his pleasure was bought with his lover's agony.

Not wanting to continue hurting, and tired of fighting for every damn millimeter he achieved, Solo's right hand fumbled for Illya's erection. Somehow, he kept their balance with only his waist and one arm supporting Illya's ever increasing weight.

Some steady pumping reduced the vise-like grip to a constricting squeeze that was as close to perfect as intercourse could get. Inch by slow, careful inch, Napoleon sank into his partner.

The gradual penetration was like none he'd experienced. It was more than simple sex. As he pushed inch after inch of his engorged cock into that frighteningly tiny aperture, Solo felt as if he were branding his partner's flesh and soul as his own private property. Napoleon understood that the Ice King wanted no truck with either sentimentality or intimacy, that that part of his partner would fight him on this all the way. But at this moment of utter soul baring and painful intimacy, not even the defiant Ice King would dare refute his claim on Illya's heart.

Illya's body was drenched with perspiration, his head thrashing from side to side as he rode the sensations out, his eyes clenched shut, his expression torn and ravaged as he helped hold his weight up by those chains and assisted in his own conquest.

Hanging there from those manacles, Illya's surrender was complete...not even a vestige of pretense remained for Illya to hide behind, not while he dangled there, the willing recipient of Napoleon's raging passions.

Solo was careful not to injure in that first, unending entry. Still, slow as he went, he didn't stop until his pelvis was pressed tight to the curves of Illya's snowy buttocks, his wine red cock buried in the deepest recesses of Illya's body.

In the moment of frozen stillness when Solo stilled to savor this incredible man, Illya's eyes snapped open to stare down into his face. There was nothing hidden – the fear, the discomfort, the heart-wrenching vulnerability...the love, it was all there for Solo to read in this, the final surrender.

At that instant, Napoleon would have traded his life and soul for a single kiss, but Illya's mouth was still far out of reach.

"Ready?" Solo checked.

Illya took a deep breath, slowly expelled it, then nodded. And so it began.

Solo pulled out, pushing back in with force measured by the degree of resistance he encountered. When Illya tensed up, he slowed down, but when his partner loosened up, he slid boldly in. This time he hit that secret pleasure button that he'd somehow failed to stimulate in his initial penetration.

Illya gave a pleased gasp, his slender hips bucking as best they could in the awkward, doubled over position.

Again and again, Solo slammed in and out of his partner, his body doing its best to fuse their flesh together and make them one organism. For a long, steamy interval, the only sounds were their animal grunts and the slap of flesh against bare flesh.

Finally, Illya's body gave a last spasmodic jerk, freezing immediately thereafter as orgasm claimed him. Illya's hot, creamy seed spurted out over Napoleon's chest and face in a warm, shocking shower.

Napoleon had never felt anything like it. As strange as it was to have another man come all over him, he still found the voluminous explosion intensely erotic...for, who could ask for more concrete proof of how thoroughly a lover was enjoying sex than this organic fountain spurting its sticky white gift all over him?

As if that were the signal for which he was waiting, Napoleon tumbled into climax. His consciousness blinked in and out as he shot his seed deep into Illya's tight body. The pleasure was unreal, exploding through his every sense as bright and spectacular as a magnesium flash. The singing delight left him blind and reeling, as helpless a captive to this ecstasy as Illya was to the chains binding him.

Napoleon's legs gave way, leaving him supported only by his grip on Illya's twisted-over back and Illya's knees squeezing the outside of his chest.

An eternity passed before anything resembling coherence dared interrupt the ecstasy rippling through his contented system. Napoleon truly felt that if he didn't make a conscious effort to remain moored to his own body, his consciousness would simply follow his semen into his friend. Although the idea did not displease him, it frightened him.

Sex wasn't supposed to be like this. The fun and the physical joy, Solo expected, no...demanded from any encounter. But the extremes of emotion which his reserved partner aroused in him were something completely outside of Napoleon's experience. Never in his life had he been into bondage, or thought himself capable of the wild reckless sex they'd just indulged in.

But somehow, where Illya was involved, none of the old rules seemed to apply anymore. The quiet Russian drove him to extremes he never would have believed possible. Like this savage encounter. He'd never done anything like this in his life – or desired to. Yet here he was, with his cock buried deep in the body of a man dangling from chains.

And this past year? Since when did Napoleon Solo wait around for someone to tell him he could make love? The very idea was preposterous. Normally, he approached romance the same way he did a mission, suave, cool, and arrogantly confident in his ability to get precisely what he wanted. Yet, for over a year Napoleon, usually the most aggressive and commanding of lovers, had allowed his partner to call the shots. And, frustrating as the in between periods were, he'd enjoyed it...

Because Illya meant more to him than any other lover.

The hows and whys of it were beyond Napoleon's ability to understand, all he knew was how he felt...and those feelings were terribly frightening to a man who'd written the book on noninvolvement.

In their own way, the emotional factors were harder to accept in stride than the fact that Illya was another man, Napoleon recognized as he clung to the trembling golden body which was supporting most of their combined weight at the moment. The aftershocks of delight danced through him like the tremors following a California quake, unpredictable and nearly as devastating as the initial burst. Every time Solo was sure it was finished, another ripple would quiver along his nerve path and send his senses reeling out again. At long last, sanity returned. Slowly, Napoleon opened his eyes.

Though soft now, he was still buried deep in Illya's flesh.

Napoleon's nose was squashed against the nearly hairless chest.

Illya's head was bent almost as if he'd passed out, his face buried in the soft brown hair at the top of Solo's head.

"You okay up there?" Napoleon inquired, carefully extracting his limp penis.

Illya moaned, hissing as Solo placed him back on his feet.

Leaning forward for a kiss, Napoleon reached up and finally undid the manacles binding his partner's wrists.

There was no mistaking his partner's distress as Illya lowered his arms and nearly crumpled to the floor.

Napoleon caught his sagging friend, holding Illya up while he rubbed at the wiry arms to help ease the pain of the return of normal circulation. He couldn't help but notice how Illya's wrists, which had remained unmarked during his overnight imprisonment, now bore livid black and blue bruises from the manacles, no doubt the consequence of supporting both their weights after climax.

Guilt-ridden by what his own selfish indulgence had cost his friend, Solo briskly massaged, asking with belated concern, "Any permanent damage?"

"Only to my ego. I will live, Napoleon. Would you be so kind as to look for my clothes?" Illya requested, taking a wobbly step back.

Not wanting what was between them to fly so fast, but seeing the logic of the request, Napoleon nodded and turned to the cupboards beneath the counter where his own clothes were laid. The drawers seemed the most obvious place to store clothing.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Illya sink to the floor. Illya's arms gripped his knees tight to his chest as he buried his face in their knobby tops.

"Illyusha?" Concerned, Solo returned to him.

"Don't call me that!"

Not knowing precisely what was wrong, Napoleon laid a hand on a pale shoulder. "Illya?"

"Don't!" Illya jerked away.

"Are you..?"

Every trace of color abruptly drained from his partner's face, a panicked expression pinching his features.

"Bathroom?" Illya snapped, nearly jumping to his feet.

"In the hallway," Solo supplied, recalling his earlier exploration. "First door to the right."

By the time the last syllable was uttered, Solo was speaking to an empty room. Illya disappeared so fast that Napoleon barely saw him move.

Spying a sink in the corner, Solo decided to make use of it himself.

After cleaning up, he dressed and recommenced his search for Illya's clothes. By the time Illya returned, Solo had recovered them from a locker in the adjacent storage room.

"Are you all right?" Napoleon worriedly questioned, bringing Illya's clothes to him while doing his best not to hover.

"Fine," Illya coldly replied. His skin was pink all over, as if he'd scrubbed himself raw with institutional powder soap and paper towels.

Without a word, Illya took his clothes from Solo. As he donned them, Illya seemed completely oblivious to the appreciative stare that followed his every move.

"So what happens now?" Solo asked once they were fully dressed.

Illya's mood puzzled him. Although Illya seemed calm, Napoleon sensed that his partner was far from content. There was a brittle edge to Illya's control that warned him to take nothing for granted.

"We retrieve the computer's master tapes and inform Mr. Waverly of our success."

Napoleon drew a patient breath. "I was referring to what happens between us now."

"Nothing," Illya stiffly replied. "Nothing happens again. Ever."

"Now wait just one minute..." Solo grabbed hold of his partner's arm as his friend made to walk away from him.

A quick, stinging shuto chop upwards and Illya was free.

Napoleon rubbed at the painful strike point, highly conscious of the fact that Illya could have broken his arm, had he so desired. The move had been nothing but a warning, a very explicit warning.

Eyes as blue and as accommodating as a Siberian winter stared ice at him. "The game is over, Napoleon. For good."

"Illya, this isn't a game. I..." Solo argued. He should have expected trouble, but since it was Illya who had suggested that ultimate union, he'd somehow convinced himself that his partner had changed his mind.

Illya cut him off cold. "If you use that particular four letter word again, Napoleon Solo, I will not be responsible for my behavior."

"For God's sake, I..." Solo caught himself, "...I care about you. We've got to work this out."

"There is nothing to `work out', Napoleon. You have...taken what you wanted. Go on to your next conquest and leave me in peace." Illya's barriers were solid ice, at least three feet thick.

"Illya, please..." Throwing caution to the wind, Napoleon grabbed hold of his friend's arm again before Illya could walk away from him.

Illya stared down at his offending hand, his chilling gaze slowly rising to Solo's face. "I am not restrained now, Napoleon. You will not find me so easy to subjugate this time."

"Subjugate?" Solo echoed, sick inside. He'd known from the moment he'd given in to the impulse to touch Illya against his partner's will that there'd be one hell of a reckoning to deal with. He'd prayed that passion...and love would be enough to carry them through. But he'd been nothing but a sentimental fool, Solo realized. The Ice King eschewed passion. The word love didn't even exist in his scientific vocabulary.

"I told you from the start that I was unwilling to play this game," Illya reminded.

Angry now himself, Solo didn't pull his punches. He was sick of this twisted game. "It wasn't rape. If you will recall, you told me to take you."

"That was the only way a game of chains and domination could end." Illya did not meet his gaze. Apparently, the ice was brittle here.

"Don't give me that line. Even chained, you could have stopped me any time you wanted. You're better with your bare feet than most men are with a gun. You wanted it as much as I did." Solo accused. "Only you're so screwed up that chains and bondage are the only way you'd allow yourself to enjoy my touch, only when you had the pretense of saying that it wasn't your fault. What are you going to do now, Illyusha – pretend that I forced myself upon you, deflowered you like some kind of captive damsel?"

Napoleon never saw the punch coming. The left hook caught him totally off guard, dropping him like a ton of bricks. Stunned, he blinked up from the floor at Illya towering over him.

Gingerly, Solo's tongue certified that he still had all his teeth. "The truth hurts, doesn't it, tovarisch?"

White with fury, Illya glowered down at him.

"Believe what you will," Illya said at last, seeming almost weary as he crossed to the nearest computer and began extracting the master tapes.

"We need to talk this through, Illya," Solo reasoned, climbing to his feet and coming up behind his friend. But he didn't get too close. Respect for the judo master's lethal abilities granted Illya the room he so desperately seemed to need.

"There is nothing to discuss," Illya stonewalled.

"Damn it! Would you please just listen to me!" Solo exploded.

"Listen to what? That you – love me?" The suggestion was almost a snarl.

"I..." Before Solo could utter the 'do', his angry partner continued.

"There is no cottage with a white picket fence in our future, Napoleon, no 2.3 children, no happy-ever-after. If we pursue this, there will only be disgrace and unemployment."

Startled by the emotional response, Napoleon tried to counter, "You've never feared anything in your entire life, Illya. Don't let them..."

"It is not 'them' I fear. Don't you understand?" At Solo's blank look and negative headshake, Illya continued, "You are asking me to sacrifice every bit of security I've gained to...satisfy your passing fancy."

"You're not a passing fancy," Solo protested. "I..."

"You will grow bored with me within a week, Napoleon, two at best. For the sake of those two weeks, you ask me to risk dishonorable discharge from U.N.C.L.E., deportation, castration, and brutal imprisonment..."

"What are you talking about?" Solo sobered, his anger dying under his partner's barely leashed distress.

"Homosexuality is not tolerated in my homeland. The penalties are quite severe. I left once to avoid..."

"You mean that you've...been involved with other men?" Solo couldn't have been more stunned if Illya had taken his gun out and shot him.

Illya head slowly shook, "No, never. You were the first and only man I've ever...touched that way."

"Then what are we talking about?" Napoleon questioned, totally lost.

"I never actually was with another, but...I knew where my true desires lay. Sooner or later I would have betrayed myself. When that U.N.C.L.E. agent approached me all those years ago...you could say that it was almost an answer to a prayer, if you believe in such things." Illya explained.

"We're not in Soviet Russia now, Illya, and you need never go back if you don't want to. U.N.C.L.E. service ensures that much. You've already got dual citizenship. Even if Waverly discharged us both out of hand for this, he's not vindictive. He wouldn't take that from you," Napoleon reasoned, never having suspected that this could be the source of their problem.

"Perhaps," Illya uneasily conceded. "But, those consequences aside, I am still unwilling to be a passing infatuation in your romantic parade, Napoleon."

"Can't you believe that I...care about you?" Solo asked when his friend continued to evade his gaze. Illya's entire concentration seemed focused upon the manual task of removing the computer tapes, a mindless operation that Illya could perform in his sleep.

"You are interested only in that which is out of your reach," Illya said quietly. "You've had me now. It's time to move on."

Beginning to suspect that his partner had given himself to him only to terminate their sexual relationship, Solo guardedly questioned, "And if I don't want to move on?"

Illya's eyes squeezed shut, "You haven't any choice. Not if you want to keep this partnership."

"Are you threatening me?" Solo challenged.

"No. Promising. I will not be a casualty of your 'hit and run' approach to romance. Either the games die here and now – our partnership does. The choice is yours, Napoleon."

Almost tempted to test Illya's resolve, he took a long look at his partner. That grim determination would walk Illya through land mines. It would carry him out of their partnership without a second's pause or backwards glance if Illya decided that such a permanent break were necessary for his survival.

And, somehow, Napoleon was beginning to sense that his partner was fighting for just that.

All that stuff about castration and imprisonment, even though Illya was free of that threat now, it couldn't have been easy for him to have lived with all those years. Add to that a natural, emotional reticence and the fact that the reserved Russian was involved with a man who had more paramours to his credit than most guys did simple dates...the situation must be nearly impossible for Illya to bear.

How could he ask Illya to risk so much, when Illya had no true idea of what he meant to him?

Finding a patience he never expected existed, Solo softly conceded, "Have it your way – for now. But know this; I plan on proving myself to you. If I have to move heaven and earth to do it."

Illya seemed taken aback by his declaration...and beneath it, more than slightly pleased. "Then I wish you luck, my friend."

Did Illya want to be won, want to be wooed? Solo wondered at the other man's fleeting surprise.

The bittersweet smile Illya gave him seemed to tell him that his partner believed failure a foregone conclusion.

Planning his strategy, Napoleon nodded, "Thank you. Shall I take these tapes out to the jeep?" he asked, sensing that his partner needed some thinking time.

"Perhaps we should look for a box?"

"I'll get right on it," Solo promised, seeing from the uneasy glance Illya threw his way that his friend understood that he was talking about more than just the job at hand.

Optimistic, despite this afternoon's set back, Solo left his partner to his thinking, wondering when he'd get the chance to make his next move.


The End

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