The Games People Play Affair
Part 2 of Post-Gurnius Affair Series
Go to Prequel: The Post Gurnius Affair
In twenty years of active pursuit of the opposite sex, Napoleon Solo had dated and bedded some of the most stunning women the world had to offer. Models, actresses of the stage and screen, stewardesses, even royalty had paraded through his bed, but even the most breath-taking of these beauties paled in comparison to his present companion, Katarina Lacouix.
Katarina was nothing short of exquisite. Her beauty was so intense that it was nearly unnatural. Her honey gold curls fell in fat ringlets around her swan-sleek neck. Her eyes were a truer, deeper blue than the Mediterranean Sea. When added to her peaches and cream complexion, naturally rosy cheeks, cherry red, pouty lips, the effect was lethal. Among women, Katarina Lacouix was a goddess. Her elegance, her grace, and poise...kings had given up thrones for beauty such as hers.
At the moment, Napoleon had Miss Lacouix all to himself, or as all to himself as he could in a crowded Parisian restaurant where every man present sat gaping at his dinner date. He was planning on moving their tête-à-tête to a more private venue, but so far the lady, although faultlessly charming, had been less than receptive to his overtures. But Solo was hopeful.
Their hands had brushed too many times across the dinner table for it to be sheer accident. Katarina was putting out all the right signals, telling him that she wanted to spend the night with him, but for some reason they were still here in this damnably public place.
The orchestra struck up a slow jazzy number that was as slinky and silky as Solo's present companion. Listening to the sensual blend of sax and bass, Napoleon couldn't help but think that his partner would enjoy the band.
Damn, Solo mentally cursed as thoughts of the quiet Russian flooded his mind. He'd been doing so well tonight. Katarina was just the ticket to keep his mind off the unobtainable. She was beautiful, cultured, sensual – everything a red-blooded male could ask for.
Only, she wasn't Illya.
As the band struck up the steamy number, Solo wanted nothing so much as to be back in the U.N.C.L.E. agents' shared hotel room. He could picture his partner right now. Illya would be lying there alone in his narrow twin bed by now, reading one of his enormous science texts, his horn-rimmed glasses either in the process of sliding down his nose or perched precariously on its upturned tip. Illya would probably be wearing his prim, button-down, powder blue pajamas. His shimmering gold hair would catch and amplify the lamplight...
Solo cursed his own lack of control, despising this weakness in himself. It was pathetic, really, how his reality had been so radically readjusted since that San Rico mission three months ago when Illya had been forced to torture him while in the guise as a long lost Nazi war criminal's son.
Napoleon forced the dangerous topic from his consciousness, tightening his resolve. He would not think about San Rico; he would not allow himself to remember the events which had followed the Gurnius mission, and he absolutely would not dwell upon the fateful massage that had gone a touch too far, the feel of Illya's hands and mouth...
"Napoleon, Napoleon!" Even when Katarina called in an annoyed voice, it still sounded sexy.
With a conscious effort, Solo focused on the stunning blonde at his side. As he did, a petty part of his mind pointed out how his partner's natural wheat and gold hair outshone her bleached perfection. "Mmmm?"
"Are you all right, Napoleon? You were miles away." Obviously, this incredibly lovely woman was not used to being ignored by her male escort.
"Forgive me. I was just...imagining how sweet it would be to hold you in my arms for a dance or two," Solo smoothly covered. He was not so far gone as to insult a gorgeous woman by telling her he was indulging in daydreams of a cantankerous, repressed, very male Russian while ignoring her many charms. "Would you care to make my dreams come true?"
A sly smile rounded her bowed lips as Katarina giggled. "We would be arrested if I made your dreams come true here, Napoleon. But if you would like, I would not mind a dance or two."
"Ah, I will die a satisfied man in that case," he purred. Rising, Napoleon played the gentleman's part, pulling out her chair for her and offering his arm.
She glided into his arms on the dance floor like something not of this Earth. She was so graceful that her feet never seemed to touch the floor. Angels should have such poise, Solo thought as he guided her into a slow dance.
Her midnight black gown was long and flowing, a diaphanous affair of sparkles that twinkled around her slim figure like fairy dust. Her perfume was as French and tantalizing as Katarina herself. Solo thought it was something from the Chanel line, but definitely not #5.
As Napoleon's hand settled on her lower back as they swayed in time, he didn't have to feign interest in the lady. She would tempt a dead man in that gown, and Solo was anything but dead.
They swirled to the music, Katarina pressing closer and closer to him at every turn. The pert peaks of her breasts pressing into his dress shirt were highly distracting. "Mmmmm, you dance divinely," he murmured as she brushed her whole front suggestively against him. He nearly gasped as her pubic mound nudged at his already aching erection. God, but she was magnificent.
Katarina's extreme feminine beauty and the feel of her warm, supple flesh succeeded in capturing his full attention where his will alone had failed. Every sense he owned focused upon her as a hunting cougar’s would on its prey.
Determined to win her, Solo turned on his brightest smile and twirled her around the dance floor as the orchestra moved on to a brighter tune.
But even as he made his play, Napoleon knew how futile the effort would be. She was a temporary distraction, at best. Beauties like her could catch his attention, but they didn't have what it took to hold it. Solo was beginning to realize that there was only one person who did.
Sleeping with the lovely Katarina wouldn't burn his partner's memory from his mind or his flesh, but, if the Fates were kind, she would give him a few hours of respite from the non-stop wanting. These days, a few hours solace was all Solo could hope for.
As it turned out, the Fates did not smile on him that night.
Less than an hour later, a very disgruntled Solo was making his disgusted way back to their hotel room.
He was grateful that it was winter. His long overcoat would conceal his embarrassing erection.
The sublime Katarina was truly not of this world, Solo mentally grumped. She'd spent the night tempting and teasing him with her flashing eyes and provocative touches, but, being the perfect ice sculpture that she was, Katarina had left him panting in the hotel lobby. Miss Lacouix had been as unmovable in her resolve to sleep alone as a twenty-ton block of stone. Napoleon had never dated so heartless a woman. She'd purposefully aroused him all evening, playing her coy French parlor games of stolen touches, then left him with his balls twisted in knots.
Napoleon didn't like to speak or even think unkindly of the fairer sex, but the lovely Katarina had been nothing but a cock tease. As crude as the appellation was, it fit his frigid Cinderella better than the proverbial glass slipper.
Finally at the room, Solo searched his pockets for his key. With any luck, Illya would be asleep already. That would allow Napoleon to deal with this embarrassing problem in the limited privacy of his lonely twin bed.
His rotten luck, however, held true.
Bright light assaulted his eyes as Solo finally got the stubborn door to open. Napoleon barely saw the quaint, comfortable room. He froze on the threshold, staring down the bore of Illya's deadly Smith & Wesson.
"Do me a favor and put me out of my misery," Solo requested. "It would be a mercy killing."
He tried not to notice that Illya was precisely as Solo had imagined his partner earlier: propped up on the pillows of his skinny bed with a heavy tome open in his lap. The old book was nearly as wide as Illya's waist. Illya's thick, geeky glasses gave him a myopic, absurdly adorable air. His fine blond hair blazed like melted gold. The only discrepancy between the living man before him and Solo's fantasy of an hour ago were the pajamas Illya wore. These were a mint green, not blue.
"You are home early tonight," Illya commented as he returned the gun to its resting-place beneath his pillows. "Didn't things go well with Miss Lacouix? She was quite lovely."
Napoleon wished that his partner didn't sound quite so casual. Didn't it bother Illya at all that he had planned to sleep with his date? Wasn't Illya the least bit jealous?
Keeping a tight reign on his temper, Solo replied, "She was exquisite, for an ice sculpture. Pardon me, I don't intend to be rude, but I'm late for an appointment with a cold shower."
Leaving his coat and scarf draped over a convenient chair, Napoleon retreated to the bathroom, wishing that he'd had the sense to book a single room.
What kind of masochist was he, anyway? To spend the night courting a heartless beauty and then return to pine over the object of his true desires – whom he couldn't touch because of that damn promise he'd given Illya.
It had seemed so simple that last morning in San Rico. Just stand back and let nature take its course. Napoleon had sensed how unnerved his partner was by their new sexual awareness of each other. Years of dealing with the stubborn Russian had taught him how futile it was to attempt to force Illya into anything, let alone something as intimate and emotional as sex. The pull between them had been so strong that Solo had been certain that Illya would come around.
So, Napoleon had backed off, promising to let Illya call the shots, allowing his reserved and cautious friend time to come to terms with the changes in their relationship. He'd been supremely confident in his ability to win even U.N.C.L.E.'s resident Ice King, if given enough time and constant exposure.
What Solo had forgotten was his partner's almost inhuman self-control. From the moment they'd left San Rico, Illya seemed blind to Solo as a sexual entity. Napoleon had done everything he could think of during the last three months to win his friend: he'd been patient; he'd been charming; he'd run the gauntlet from subtly suggestive, to provocative, to openly flirtatious. He'd even sunk so low as to try to make Illya jealous by openly courting women in front of his partner. But, so far, Illya was having none of it. For all the notice Illya had taken of him, Solo might just as well have been invisible.
Napoleon didn't know what had hurt worse – his pride and ego at being so easy to ignore, his rampant, frustrated libido...or the part of him that couldn't forget the extreme tenderness of Illya's touch and ached for its loss.
But at the moment, Solo's ache was a bit more physical in nature.
As Napoleon stripped down in the bathroom, he considered relieving the problem with his faithful right hand. Only, he'd been stupid enough to announce the situation to his partner. His pride wouldn't allow him to jerk off in the john like some seedy low life in a strip joint. He hadn't fallen that far yet.
The icy blast of cold water in the shower quelled the fire in his flesh and damn near froze his epidermis off. Shivering uncontrollably, Solo quickly soaped up, rinsed off, and killed the water before he developed frost bite. His teeth chattering, Napoleon stepped out of the tub and grabbed a towel to viciously scrub himself dry.
Although the cold shower had served its original purpose and tamed his humiliating erection, it had produced its own complication. Napoleon was now completely wide awake.
The restlessness in his blood ensured that it wouldn't be long before his former tormentor reared its hungry little head again. Damn, what a night.
Grimacing, Solo tugged his robe on, grateful that he'd had the foresight to leave it hanging in the bathroom this morning. At least he wouldn't have to stand naked before the Ice King.
While exiting the bath, Solo didn't even allow himself to glance in Illya's direction. His back to his partner, he shrugged out of his robe and slipped under the covers.
Napoleon’s body reacted instantly to the sensual brush of cool linen against his bare skin. He could feel himself harden almost as soon as he crawled between the sheets. So much for cold showers, Solo grimly thought as he tried to get comfortable.
"Good night, Napoleon," Illya said a few moments later, his voice sounding strangely gentle.
Wishing that he weren't so pathetically attracted to this unemotional man, Solo kept his back to his friend and stared at the blank wall beside his bed. "Good night."
He heard Illya's book close, then the plastic snap-snap as he folded his glasses and stored them in their case for the night. A heartbeat later, the bedside lamp clicked off and blessed darkness claimed the room.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Napoleon rolled over onto his back. Illya's personal habits were as predictable as the rising sun. Three, four minutes, tops, then the gentle snoring would start, soft as a kitten's purr. After that, Solo would be free to deal with his problem in a more effective manner.
Napoleon restlessly shifted onto his side, waiting in visceral anticipation of the instant his partner would fall asleep, when he'd be free to move.
Solo watched as the bedside travel alarm relentlessly ticked off the passing minutes, still no snore.
Napoleon turned over again, then again some time later.
Twenty minutes had to have passed. His body was once again screaming for relief, but Solo could tell by his partner's breathing that Illya was still wide-awake.
Great, all he needed was for the Ice King to get insomnia on tonight of all nights. Illya had the hearing of a hunting hound. There was no way on Earth that Napoleon could take care of his problem with his partner wide awake and listening less than three feet away.
Cursing his luck, Solo rolled onto his back again.
An unexpected movement in the room snapped Napoleon into a state of instant alertness. Survival instincts honed from years of experience on the job had him reaching under his pillow for his gun before he'd even consciously focused on the threat.
His groping hand met only cool sheets, no gun. Furious with himself, Napoleon belatedly realized that while in his previous state of sexual frustration, he'd left his weapon hanging on the back of the bathroom door with the clothes he'd worn tonight. Of all the stupid, irresponsible stunts, he silently fumed.
If Illya were truly asleep and simply not snoring tonight, they could be in quite a bit of hot water here. Napoleon knew that an assassin would take him the moment he moved. The disturbance might wake Illya in time to defend himself. Illya was the best there was at this game. His friend might get the bastard before being shot himself, but one's reaction time was always lowest immediately after falling asleep. Illya mightn’t have the time to focus before he, too, met his end. Solo knew that his stupidity might very well cost them both their lives.
Damn, how had he been stupid enough to leave his weapon in another room like some damn rookie?
Tensed to make his move, Solo froze as the winter moonlight seeping in between the lace curtains on the window picked out a familiar shimmer. His action-primed muscles untensed as the worried Solo practically sagged with relief. It was just Illya - on his way to the john, no doubt.
Slightly confused, Napoleon remembered that the bathroom was in the opposite direction. They traveled so much in this line of work that they were lucky if they recalled what country they were in, let alone the layout of each particular hotel room. After a while, the rooms became just a blur of beds and cranky plumbing. Illya would doubtless orient himself in a moment and head back towards the bathroom. Or maybe all that reading had given his studious friend a headache. Illya might be going to the bureau for an aspirin.
But Illya didn’t seem to be heading for the chest of drawers where they’d left the first aid kit, either.
In the cat and mouse game they played with death every day, any deviation from the norm was cause for concern. Everyone was suspect, including one’s own partner. Napoleon couldn’t even count the number of times THRUSH had sent some ringer in to kill one of them. This could be another double or some insidious android made to look like Kuryakin or it could simply be Illya.
The not knowing kept Solo primed for action, tensed in breathless anticipation.
Completely alert, Napoleon watched as his companion paused at his bedside. There was no gun in Illya’s hand, no overt threat. Every instinct Solo owned was telling him that this was his partner. Illya simply stood there in his baggy pajamas, his indecision almost palpable.
About to inquire if something were wrong, the words froze in Solo's throat, choked by his body's helpless reaction to the moonlit figure. Illya was so pale, almost ghostly, like some vision snatched out of a dream. Mystery seemed to crackle around his still figure like static electricity. Suddenly, Illya was a creature of the night, a wraith of quicksilver and shadows, almost unearthly in his beauty.
A whitish glint of gossamer hair or flashing eye, his face paler than alabaster...that was all Solo could pick out in the low light. Illya’s expression and intent were lost to the cloaking shadows.
Solo knew that he should make some type of challenge. At the very least, he should ask Illya what he was doing, but Napoleon was loathe to break the spell.
Illya was coming to his bed. Solo had dreamt of this moment for the past three months, lived for it...
"The cold shower didn’t help, did it?" Illya whispered, his deep voice as intimate as a lover’s caress.
With the window positioned behind Illya’s back as it was, his face was thrown totally in shadow.
Unable to see so much as Illya’s eyes, Napoleon swallowed hard and gave a mute, negative shake of his head.
The silence that followed seemed to thicken like honey around them, stretching out through several eternities.
Or so it seemed to the anxious Napoleon, who was beginning to feel like an insect trapped in amber as he waited under the watchful stare he could feel studying him out of the darkness.
He wished he could see Illya’s face so that he could guess what the other man was thinking, feeling.
Finally, the stasis broke with shocking suddenness.
Solo gasped as his partner reached out and snagged the covers. Wordlessly, Illya tugged the bedclothes aside, baring Napoleon to the chill night air. Napoleon's skin convulsed into a shivery coat of goosebumps as he gaped up at his partner, shocked and excited to his core by the unexpected act.
"Yes?" Illya questioned, that one tense word encapsulating everything and nothing.
Speechless at the abrupt move, Solo struggled to find his voice. With someone else, pulling the covers aside as Illya had done might have come across as crude or even violent, but with Illya...
His partner didn’t play by the rules most others lived their lives by. Napoleon knew that the quiet loner was almost completely innocent concerning affairs of the heart. Illya might have more intellectual ability than any man living, but when it came to social niceties, he was as blundering as a child raised by wolves. This mightn’t be the smoothest seduction Solo had ever encountered, but Napoleon loved nothing more than his partner’s blunt honesty. This was simply Illya’s stumbling way of confronting an issue that he didn’t have the emotional wherewithal to tackle conventionally.
Naked, Solo shivered under his partner’s gaze, his erection rising big as a .44 Magnum, pointing straight at the object of his desires. He didn’t understand everything Illya’s question was asking, but there could be only one answer. "Yes."
Napoleon felt, rather than saw, those pale blue eyes rake down his bare flesh, like a lord surveying his territory.
Solo started to sit up, reaching hungrily to make his companion welcome. But Illya's right palm landed flat in the center of his chest, firmly pushing him back against the pillows.
"Don't move," Illya ordered in an emotion thick whisper.
The very syllables shuddered through Napoleon with dark promise.
He lay totally still as Illya's hand stroked down his sternum to the softness of belly. The simple stroke shot fire through his loins like some exotic foreplay. Napoleon's entire system seemed to jolt with the shock of that warm touch. His heart leapt in his chest, his guts constricting with almost painful pleasure as a strangled moan escaped his lips.
"Illya, please..." Solo begged helplessly, shamed by this need he couldn't control. He'd never felt desire this fierce, not anything that would bring him to this pathetic state of dependency so fast. Illya had just touched him once – a nearly impersonal stroke, nowhere near his genitals – and Napoleon felt ready to come. It was utterly humiliating.
Only, Solo didn't care about pride. He didn't care what it took, so long as it got Illya to break down and make love to him. All he wanted was to hold this incredible man in his arms and rediscover that wondrous joy they'd found in San Rico. He wanted to shower his partner with the same kind of tender care Illya had given him three months ago.
"Sssh, no words," Illya commanded in that same sensual whisper that shivered right through Napoleon's blood.
The hand withdrew from Napoleon's chest as Illya retreated several steps back from the bed.
In the dim light, Solo could just make out the determined set of the other man's jaw and the challenging arch his partner's left eyebrow gave. Like a statue carved of cold white marble, Illya stood there, silently waiting.
Illya's message was clear, for all that it remained unvoiced. It was his way, or nothing at all.
Warning or threat, it didn't matter. Solo's jaw snapped shut. Meeting the shadowed gaze that he could only feel and not see, he gave a slow nod, authorizing...anything. He was so hungry for this that he'd let the other man handcuff him to the bed, if that were the degree of submission his wary partner required from him before Illya would feel secure enough to continue.
His nod appeared to be enough. Seeming to take him at his word, Illya approached the bed, his hesitation palpable.
Watching his partner, Napoleon couldn't help but think that Illya was as overwhelmed by this as he was himself. He couldn't see facial expression at all, but the tension in the slender form and the body language of this person he knew better than any other on Earth told Napoleon that his companion was fighting against this for all that he was worth, and that Illya was losing his battle, just as Solo had lost his own when he'd attempted to put San Rico behind him.
Unlike their first encounters where the hesitant Russian had seduced Solo’s vulnerable body by slow degrees during a massage, Illya wasn't subtle tonight.
Try as he would, Napoleon was unable to hold in the whimper as Illya lightly trailed the fingertips of his right hand down the inside of his thigh. His legs splayed wide apart, his hips arching frantically up at this tender demon wearing Illya Kuryakin's cool visage.
Lightning darted along Napoleon’s nerve endings as those talented fingertips lightly skimmed the thick body hair downing his inner thighs. Solo’s cock throbbed and pulsed larger, scant inches above the tantalizing touch. Illya’s fingers whisked down the sensitive region almost to Napoleon’s knees in a feather-light brush, before beginning their slow journey back up, falling maddeningly short of the genitals.
While Solo lay there, bound by that order not to move, lest he lose it all, he watched Illya’s free hand reach for his lightly downed chest. Illya found his left nipple, the first contact of those warm fingers bringing it totally erect. With characteristic curiosity and thoroughness, the Illya’s thumb and index finger came back to explore.
Normally, this wasn’t one of Solo’s most sensitive areas. His neck and thighs were far more vulnerable. But as Illya applied pressure to that tight little nub of flesh, Napoleon’s entire body seemed to burst to life. Every cell straight down to his toes felt the bolt of undiluted pleasure that shot through him. Reeling, he recalled how it had been the same in San Rico. Illya had touched him in places that had previously had little to no sensitivity and he'd all but swooned from the contact.
It was no different tonight. Napoleon couldn’t say how this man’s touch differed from the thousands of caresses females had given him throughout his life, all he knew was that everything Illya did seemed unnaturally intense. It was almost as though he were sensitized to Illya’s very aura. He began to realize that it didn’t matter what his partner did; it was simply the fact that it was Illya doing these things to him that made all the difference.
By torturously slow degrees, the pressure of the caresses between Solo’s thighs increased. The feathery skim became a stroke, then a near scratch as Illya’s fingernails cautiously raked across the tender flesh. Illya didn’t break skin, just galvanized nerve-endings that were opened to receive the subtle feather touches.
"Oh, God...Illya, please..."
"No words," Illya sharply reminded, his voice so thick as to be nearly incomprehensible.
Napoleon didn’t need any translation. The hands pulling back from his body were an explicit enough threat.
Biting down on his lower lip, Solo gave a sharp nod of assent. Everything in him screamed for him to reach up and drag the smaller man down on top of him, to quit this nonsense and make love as two people were intended to: skin to skin.
But there was nothing more implacable than his stubborn Russian. Illya had utterly inhuman control of his body. Napoleon was in absolutely no doubt that if he tried to force this issue, Illya could and would walk away from it, without so much as a backwards glance. And, God help him, he couldn’t afford to take that chance. He needed this, more than he’d ever needed anyone or thing in his entire, independent life.
So, instead of taking what he wanted, Solo lay there and waited for his partner to decide whether he would give it to him. Napoleon’s fingers tangled in the sheets to keep from reaching for his friend. His erection was a humiliating, painful monster rearing at his groin, begging for attention...as the Ice King stood over him and stared.
Solo’s pride smarted at the image he must present, cursing Illya for bringing him to these pathetic straits. But, still, Napoleon didn’t move or speak. Too much was at stake. And Illya, damn him, seemed to be enjoying his predicament.
That last was just supposition on Napoleon’s part, for he couldn’t see the other man’s features well enough to catch a single clear emotion. But with Illya, such details were inconsequential. He could tell more from Illya’s body language than he could read in most men’s eyes, and years' worth of familiarity was telling him that the heartless bastard was savoring every second of this.
Solo cursed himself for a fool. Only he could become so hopelessly fixated on someone so totally devoid of sympathy. But as there was no denying the situation. The realist in him bowed to its constraints. He’d play Illya’s game, for the moment. But someday, the tide would turn. And then...well, then he’d teach the trickster a thing or two about games.
Just when Napoleon was certain that Illya was going to turn his back and go to his own bed, he surprised him by returning, sinking down to his knees beside Napoleon’s bed.
Napoleon’s breath caught as his partner bent over his chest, the light from the window frosting Illya’s soft hair the eldritch silver of moonlit ice. He couldn’t help himself, he reached out for the shimmering cascade.
To his great surprise, Illya permitted the touch.
Illya’s hair was so incredibly soft, as lush to the touch as the coveted sable of his homeland. Napoleon was totally lost in its feel as the cool length slid between his fingers. Then Illya’s hot mouth fastened on his nipple and he was blown away by the contrast in sensations.
Whimpering in helpless frustration, Solo’s hips jerked spasmodically up at his friend, his body pleading for the attention it had craved from this unemotional man these last three months.
Solo cried out as Illya started to suck his nipple, rocked by the sensations. Worried by his lapse in control, he froze as the sound died on his lips, terrified that Illya would pull back once again. But apparently ‘no words’ meant just that. Inarticulate outcries seemed permissible in this strange game they were playing. Napoleon just wished that he knew all the rules.
Once Illya had sucked that nub to an aching, hard pebble, his luscious mouth nuzzled a path to Solo’s other nipple, granting it equal attention.
For a man who’d felt little at his chest in prior encounters, Solo found his reality jarred by the liquid fire Illya’s sucking loosed in him. It left him boneless, literally sobbing for breath...and Illya hadn’t even touched his penis yet.
For all Napoleon knew, Illya mightn’t even plan on actually touching him there. He was reacting so intensely to this basically tame foreplay, that there was every possibility that Illya could force him to come like this.
Illya’s next move seemed to reinforce that concern, for his mouth trailed upwards instead of down. Illya licked up the center of his dark-downed chest to attack Napoleon’s throat with surprising fervor.
It was there that Napoleon knew that he was truly lost. His neck and ears were his most sensitive spots. The feel of that hot, moist breath scuttling down his neck left him a shuddering wreck. When Illya added his tongue-tip to the mix, tickling behind his ear...Napoleon’s body just went wild. Higher thought switched off and all he could do was feel...and react.
Moving slower than Siberia’s glaciers, Illya sucked his way up Solo’s throat. Napoleon was left a quivering mass of excited, boneless protoplasm in his partner’s wake. Then that wicked tongue started dipping into his aural canal and limning his earlobes, undoing him completely. By the time Illya was done there, Solo was twitching like a Mexican jumping bean. He knew that his tiny, needy cries made it plain that he was beyond pride, but he didn’t care anymore. It was hard for him to admit, but he recognized that he was beyond self-respect as well. The simple fact was that he would do anything this man asked of him, and they both knew it.
A part of him fully expected Illya to draw back and make a point of demonstrating Napoleon’s pathetic state of vulnerability by making Solo beg for more. It would certainly be in keeping with the power game Illya had been playing so far.
Almost in answer to that thought, Illya raised his head from where he’d been nuzzling Solo’s earlobe. But rather than lording his conquest over the shaken Napoleon, Illya surprised him by nuzzling along his jaw-line. His partner's right hand rose to pensively finger the mole on Solo’s left cheek.
Startled by the unexpected tenderness of the gesture, Napoleon stared up at his companion in disbelieving wonder. With Illya’s face still thrown in shadow, he still couldn’t make out much more than the whites of his partner’s eyes and Illya’s glistening moist lips.
It was this last that nearly hypnotized Solo. Illya had the most amazing mouth he’d ever seen. So full and lethally sensual, it was such a sharp contrast to his ascetic character. Somehow, that pouty mouth had always made Solo suspect that his partner wasn’t as cold-blooded as he liked to let on. How could Illya be, with such utterly vulnerable lips? Surely, the man couldn’t have gone his entire life without dozens of people taking him up on the offer those lips unconsciously made every time Illya wet them.
Sensing a yearning that matched his own behind that gentle gesture, the totally asexual caressing of his mole, Solo hoarsely begged, "Lie down beside me, please?" not caring if it was against Illya’s rules.
Illya froze above him, making Napoleon fear that his partner would once again desert him, perhaps permanently. But Illya didn’t pull back.
Napoleon could almost feel the other man’s indecision. Scenting that weakness, Solo capitalized upon it for all that he was worth. He didn’t risk words again. Instead, he let his gaze reach up into the darkness from where he could feel Illya’s eyes watching him. Feeling as if he were courting a shadow or a specter of some long dead love who’d shatter at too physical an approach, Napoleon allowed his eyes to do his pleading. He was very aware that the moonlight, which masked Illya’s emotions, was giving his own away.
For a few seconds, Napoleon was certain that he had his friend. He could feel Illya weakening, that steely resolve slipping away at the open promise in Solo’s eyes...but at the last moment, Illya appeared to catch himself.
With a reluctant shake of his head, Illya bent forward to kiss each of Solo’s eyes closed in turn. The utter tenderness of the gesture rocked through Napoleon. He could feel how much Illya wanted him. Why in the name of heavens did the stubborn fool keep refusing to allow their loving to take a more natural, even course?
It made utterly no sense. Napoleon could tell by the way those near worshipping lips caressed his every feature that Illya longed for this the same as he did. But Illya was still kneeling there fully clothed, while Solo was about to pop.
As if incapable of stopping himself, Illya took Solo’s mouth. There wasn’t even a hint of awkwardness as they opened up to each other, tongues greedily exploring as they drank deep of each other’s juices. The kiss was playful, loving, achingly tender.
Solo delved deeper into his friend, feeling as if he were peeling away a series of protective shells that hid this vulnerable man from the outside world of hurt and betrayal. Illya seemed to blossom under the tender contact, opening up, offering more of himself to the kiss. Illya’s sensual mouth worked avidly against his, inviting im to drown deeper and deeper in its sweet, juicy depths. There was an innocence to the Illya Solo found hiding here that rocked his to his very core. This was the Illya who wanted to laugh, but never could, who wanted to love, but didn’t dare.
As Illya unveiled that part of himself to Solo, the last of the barriers protecting them from each other seemed to crumble and fall. What was left was...terrifying in its simplicity, an emotion so pure and bright that it seemed to strip away their every artifice, until all that remained was this naked, awkward truth.
In their line of work, love was a commodity that they could ill afford. It made an agent weak, vulnerable. When one’s beloved was on the line, it was hard to see the larger picture. Such chinks in one’s armor robbed an operative of his ability to do whatever was necessary to get a job done.
Napoleon knew that he should not welcome this emotion. It was not a cause for celebration. Rather, it could very well be their complete undoing.
And, yet, Solo had never experienced a joy quite so bright as the one that flared through him when he felt Illya’s formidable emotional barriers crumble, when for that single, brief moment, they touched soul to soul, with nothing between them but the truth and their burning bodies.
Their souls joining as intimately as their lips, they lay there a long time sharing this deadly discovery, savoring its fragile beauty. By acknowledging this feeling, Solo knew that they had just both signed their own death warrants. And, for the very first time in his life, Napoleon was content to do just that. For this sweet spirit, he would allow Fate to hold a hostage over him; he would accept one chink in his armor.
But the Ice King was not so ready to risk immolation.
Napoleon knew fully well that this ruthless side of his friend had been formed in Illya’s formative years of intense privation. This unfeeling survivor was the part of Illya that made him the best agent U.N.C.L.E. had to offer, the part of Illya that kept him alive. Although he did not know the particulars, he was aware of the fact that his partner had seen his entire family die before his eyes during the war. That much was in Illya’s file. But the circumstances that had birthed this unemotional alter ego were shrouded in mystery. Caring as deeply for Illya as he did, he wasn’t even certain if he could bear the particulars that had birthed such a cold-blooded monster.
Solo felt the exact instant that the Ice King reasserted his control over this hidden Illya and slammed the door to Illya’s soul with the finality of a heavy iron prison cell banging shut.
The separation between Illya’s rational and emotional sides was that clear cut. Deep in his own heart, Napoleon swore he could feel that hidden Illya’s cry of despair as they were ripped asunder.
The weirdest part of it was that it happened within a single kiss. One second, their souls were touching as they bared everything to each other, then, a single heartbeat later, Illya was kissing him with the cold technique of a bored whore. And not a thing had changed on the surface. They were still sharing the same breath and tasting each other’s saliva.
After a few frozen moments, the Ice King pulled ruthlessly away.
Solo followed, frantic to free the Illya imprisoned beneath all that cold perfection, but his partner would have none of it. Illya’s rational mind was once again firmly in control.
Napoleon was almost sobbing as the other man bent to kiss his way down his chest. His partner’s technique was faultless as Illya aroused him to fever pitch, but Solo didn’t want that expertise. He wanted his sweet, heartbreakingly vulnerable Illya back. Napoleon knew that if the Ice King had his way, he’d never see that trapped soul again.
Unable to resist the lure of that talented tongue, Solo soon found himself writhing with need, his reality dictated by the pulsing flesh at his groin. In that moment, he almost hated the Ice King for bringing the encounter down to this base level.
No one knew better than Illya how vulnerable he was to pleasures of the flesh. With calculated intent, that knowledge was being used to distract Napoleon from his higher goal.
There was no hesitation at all as Illya neared Solo’s engorged cock. Unable to stop himself, he watched hungrily as the silver-gold head lowered over his burning need. With barely a pause for breath, Illya sucked him into his mouth.
The hot, wet depths assaulted Solo’s few remaining controls, completely undoing him. On some level, Napoleon felt that by surrendering to the Ice King, he was betraying what this was really about. He didn’t want to just screw his partner, he wanted to make love to that tender man trapped inside. With a mental apology to that imprisoned Illya, Solo gave himself over fully to the passion of the moment. The feel of that wonderful mouth sucking on him was sheer Nirvana. It raced through his system like a drug rush.
Out of control, Solo thrust wildly up into the hot wetness that was servicing him so efficiently, burying his need deep in Illya’s throat. Illya didn’t even choke this time, as his inexperienced partner had back in San Rico. The Ice King was nothing if not a fast learner. The jaded Solo had had prostitutes who didn’t know how to use their tongue that way. Even as he shuddered under those pleasures, Napoleon hated that cold manipulator for giving him precisely what his body had been crying for these last three months.
As if Solo’s shameful surrender weren’t enough to satisfy him, Illya’s hands slipped below Solo’s butt. Illya’s fingers froze there, their callused pads harsh against Napoleon’s sensitive flesh.
And, God help him, all Solo could do was shiver; his body was so on fire. Then those talented hands began to knead and squeeze him, shooting electric sparks along his nerves as Napoleon was forced to confront yet another inconvenient truth. In that moment, he knew that he’d give the Ice King even that, if only that heartless warden would allow his Illya back out to love him.
That he would even consider capitulating to another man was a stunning discover for someone of his background. Always in the past, Napoleon Solo had seen himself as the taker, the one who called all the shots and made all the moves. Control was as natural to him as breathing. Napoleon had never wanted anyone or anything enough to alter that neat, comfortable arrangement.
But to touch his Illya, to lay him down and pleasure the imprisoned spirit the way he longed to...there wasn’t anything Solo wouldn’t give. He’d even let the Ice King screw him, if his Illya would peek through for just a little while.
Napoleon didn’t know if it were that shocking acknowledgment, the talented mouth performing such artful fellatio on his cock, or those powerful hands squeezing his butt with their dark promise, but his world exploded around him. Every thought was washed away on the floodtide of burning pleasure. His seed jettisoned deep into Illya’s throat as he bobbed over him, Napoleon melting inside from the undiluted ecstasy.
At that moment, the Ice King owned his soul as surely as his Illya did. And in the heated confusion of climax, Solo imagined that he felt some of the tenderness he recalled from San Rico filtering in. But that couldn’t be; this was the Ice King’s party. With a bittersweet sense of longing, Napoleon nonetheless clung to that fantasy as his reality rocked around him.
Finally, Napoleon was as drained and limp as a waterlogged paper straw. Only then, when he had no more to offer, did Illya raise his head.
Solo was almost ashamed to meet his partner’s gaze, for fear of what he’d find. Would the Ice King be arrogant in his victory, or coldly removed from such base activities? Either way, Napoleon was in no great rush to face his conqueror.
But eventually, his curiosity got the better of him. Unable to bear the extended silence a moment longer, Solo looked down. He did not meet cruel glee or lofty indifference.
Stunned, Solo appraised his partner. Illya’s head was thrown back. For the first time since the lamp had been turned off, Napoleon could see his partner’s features. Beneath the rumpled bangs, Illya’s face was flushed. His swollen lips were parted, the slender agent sporting an expression of sated relaxation that could only mean one thing...
"You came again?" Napoleon whispered, recalling how Illya had climaxed that last time in San Rico, too, without Solo’s once touching him.
"Mmmmm..." Illya sleepily affirmed.
Realizing that the Ice King was not quite as immune to him as he’d feared, Solo tried to process this new information.
Illya’s soul wasn’t exactly bared to him at the present moment, but his partner wasn’t hiding behind a wall of ice, either. There was a hint of approachability there that shouldn’t have existed...unless the Ice King wanted Solo as his lover, too, and just didn’t know how to reach out.
Staggered by the possibility, Solo just lay there gently petting the golden fall of hair across Illya’s brow. Napoleon could sense how his partner wanted to slip back behind his emotional barriers again, but wasn’t quite able to just yet. The warm, tender feelings that lay between them were almost a tangible presence.
Not wanting to test the reality of this fleeting feeling by any gesture that was too forward or demanding, Napoleon simply savored the feel of the soft hair beneath his fingertips. Illya was watching his face. Solo knew that his companion could read everything else he ached to do in his open expression.
Illya accepted the attention for a minute or two longer than Solo had expected. Then, Illya seemed to garner the inner strength to close himself off again.
With a reluctant sigh, Illya tore his gaze away from Solo and made to move to his own bed.
Before Illya could turn away and bury this encounter in the past as he had those of San Rico, Solo grabbed Illya’s wrist. "Wait..."
Nearly his cool self again, Illya paused, a question in his moonlit eyes...and a tacit warning.
"At least tell me why not. You want me as much as I want you," Solo stated. "I know you do."
"Napoleon..." It was almost his Illya pleading with him.
"Why won’t you let me touch you?" Napoleon practically begged.
"Perhaps it would make it too real," Illya suggested. He stared at where Solo gripped his wrist, but made no effort to break free just yet.
Aware of how easily Illya could escape that hold if he so desired, Solo cautiously raised the captured hand to his lips.
"What could be realer than this?" Napoleon asked, placing a gentle kiss on the lethal knuckles. "Or realer than what you just did for me?"
Solo felt the quiver that coursed through the slender Russian as his lips caressed the killer hard skin and bone of his partner’s knuckles. Illya’s skin was so smooth and soft everywhere else. By kissing him here, where conflict had hardened his skin, Solo felt as if he were courting the Ice King.
"Perhaps it is self-preservation, then," Illya whispered.
Hearing the ring of truth in the shaky exhalation, Napoleon inquired, "Self-preservation?"
To his astonishment, Illya moved closer to him. He actually took a seat on the bed beside him. Illya’s unbound hand reached out to stroke Solo’s cheek, his touch as gentle and cherishing as the expression softening his handsome features.
"For the sake of our partnership, I dare not give in, Napoleon. In your heart of hearts, you know this."
Solo shook himself out of the sensual web that tender touch was weaving over him. "What are you talking about?"
"Napoleon, you grow bored so quickly with the jewels you hold in your hand. If I were to submit to you...it would not be long before you were eyeing some other bauble. Where would our partnership be, then?" Illya’s tone was remarkably free of any hint of accusation.
"You’re not some bauble," Solo protested.
"Only because I refuse to be treated as such," Illya calmly pointed out.
"You’re my partner. You’re not like any of the others," Napoleon reasoned, desperate to make this difficult man see what he meant to him.
"Nor will I be." It was a warning and promise both.
"How can you be content with this...half-measure?" Solo asked, trying to understand. It wasn’t like Illya was on the receiving end of the sex they’d shared. If that had been the case, Solo would have understood his friend’s refusal to go any further. Although Napoleon hadn’t any previous sexual experience with his own gender, he’d met several seemingly straight men over the years who would go down to the Village every now and then to get some good looking hustler to blow them. He didn’t completely understand the twisted logic that motivated these men, the belief that because they weren’t actively involved in the proceedings, they weren’t engaging in homosexual sex. But Illya didn’t even have that flimsy sham to hide behind. If his intent was to deny their homosexual encounters, how could Illya do so when it was Illya himself who was giving the blow jobs?
Napoleon had often thought Illya repressed, but he’d never believed his partner to be that messed up.
Nor was Illya. His partner wasn’t twisted that way, Solo was certain of it. Illya didn’t seem to be trying to deny that he’d had sex with a man. There was something else going on here, something just outside Napoleon’s grasp.
"It is this... half-measure, or nothing, Napoleon. The choice is yours." With that, Illya broke free of the hand holding his wrist, his features freezing into an icy mask.
Stung by the rejection, Solo snapped, "No, the choice is yours. You...get off on controlling me," he accused. "It’s all a sick power game to you. You get me all wild and crazy, but stay safe behind your walls, untouched by it all, but totally in charge."
Illya shrugged, not even bothering to deny the accusation. "Perhaps. But I do not believe I am the only one of whom that can be said. The fact that I can control you – and do – excites you, my friend. If you are honest with yourself, you will admit that that control excites you more than anything you’ve had in a very long time."
The very truth of Illya’s estimation was proven by the helpless shiver that coursed through Solo’s loins. God help him, but the cold-blooded bastard was right. He did get off on Illya controlling him. But he’d be damned if he’d let Illya get complacent over that fact. Solo was already feeling vulnerable enough at this point without Illya lording it over him.
"That could change," Napoleon warned. "In fact, it might be interesting to see how you feel on the other side of this game."
"Then, the game would end," Illya stated simply, as if voicing one of the elements in a mathematical equation.
"So, what you’re saying is that if I’m a good little boy and keep my hands to myself, this will happen again?" Solo couldn’t keep the asperity out of his tone. He’d never been so angry with, or hot for, another lover in his life.
There was an Illya buried deep beneath this prickly exterior that longed to be Solo’s lover; in his heart, Napoleon knew this to be true. But in reality, he had never even seen his partner naked in an intimate setting, let alone lain hands on him. There wasn’t even a word for what they were to each other any more.
"Perhaps," Illya’s smile as he voiced the by now expected response was predatory in the extreme. The word was an open challenge.
A challenge which Solo would live to meet.
Angry and aroused in equal measures, Napoleon gave a thoughtful nod, the air of under-played threat which had made him U.N.C.L.E.’s top enforcer entering his attitude. "Be warned. You are playing with fire here. This isn’t simply a game to me. You’re going to get burnt, my friend. Burnt badly."
All traces of smugness left Illya’s suddenly sober features. "From the start, I expected nothing else," Illya grimly acknowledged. "Good night, Napoleon."
His gaze lowering, as if to hide his heart from him, Illya returned to his bed. His normally fastidious partner didn’t even pause to strip off his sticky pajama bottoms, so intent was he in retreat.
Stony silence met his tentative whisper.
Feeling oddly guilty, Solo pulled the covers up over his naked body and stared up at the ceiling, considering what his closest friend had admitted in their final exchange. Before he could win his Illya, he was going to have to get through this pessimistic front. Somehow, he had to find a means to convince the Ice King that he could be trusted. Having no clue how to go about that, he lay in the dark, aching to slip over into the other bed and just hold Illya close to him for the night.
But that was against the Ice King’s rules.
Although it was hours before the troubled Napoleon finally drifted off, the comforting, kitten-purr of a snore never emerged from his partner’s bed.
Go to Sequel: The Playtime's Over Affair