Written for crashtestskater
Always Crashing in the Same Car
"You know," Napoleon said conversationally, "there are shorter routes from Ingolstein to Paris than cutting through Germany."
"You are a perceptive navigator Napoleon", Illya answered. "Particularly after a good nap."
"Artie and the Duchess throw an excellent party, " Napoleon yawned. "I suppose there's no point in my asking what we're doing on the Autobahn?"
"We don't often get a car as nice as this one," Illya said, flashing his lights and revving the engine, waiting for the Opel Capitän in in front of them in the passing lane to get out of the way. "How fast do you think it can go?"
"110. Maybe 120 if there's a tailwind." The Mercedes 220 convertible was a nice car Napoleon thought. Leather seats, plenty of legroom, 134 HP. He eyed the speedometer, 85 mph.
"A three hour detour tops." Illya said. "We'll be in Paris by midnight and the plane doesn't leave till tomorrow afternoon."
"Three hours and a border or two."
"We have diplomatic plates, Napoleon."
The Opel in front of them increased its speed, refusing to move to the right.
"Blockhead", Illya muttered under his breath, swerved to the right, stepped on the gas and passed him, then merged again into the left lane.
"Are you going to tell me what this is about?"
The lane ahead was clear, and Illya levelled his speed at 90. "Who would have guessed I joined UNCLE to promote royal marriages and perpetuate ruling dynasties", he said sarcastically. "My grandfather is turning over in his grave."
"Which one? " Napoleon was curious.
"The one who disapproved of my going to the degenerate West. "
"That's what this is about my little Bolshevik?"
Illya frowned. "I don't know", he said.
Napoleon was about to respond when he heard the sound of another car. The Opel had come up on their right, and was nosing slowly ahead. "Look what you've done now, you've stirred up one of the Bürgers", he sighed.
Illya grinned, an always unnerving sight. He allowed the other driver to gain half a length, then stepped on the gas again and pulled even with him. Napoleon glanced over. Business suit, early middle age, face red and definitely not amused. Then Illya started moving away, just slowly enough to let the other man think he could keep pace. 93... 94... they were at 95 when an exit loomed and traffic appeared ahead. Illya sped up again, left the Opel behind, skewed to the right just in time to miss the slower car suddenly in front of them, zoomed past it and back into the passing lane.
Behind them they heard the high pitched whine of a brake, squealing tires and a cacophony of horns.
"I think that was his exit," Illya said with a satisfied smirk.
"I can't believe Cutter let you pass driving school", Napoleon grouched as he let out the breath he'd been holding.
"He didn't want to you know, wanted me to stay for more training. But Waverly told him I'd get plenty of practice on the job."
"Waverly doesn't have to sit in the car with you." Napoleon's voice was sour.
Illya shrugged. "He knew Cutter didn't like me. He liked you though," he glanced sideways at Napoleon. "He let us all know how much he liked you."
"I know how to handle people like Cutter."
"Oh, and what's the great secret of your success?"
"I know what people want Illya, and I know how to make them think they're getting it."
"I did what he asked." Illya said sullenly.
"Tovarisch, you have perfected the art of giving people what they ask for, without giving them what they want. Do you have any idea how irritating that is?"
"I'm not like you. I can't guess what people want if they don't tell me," Illya said and increased his speed.
"You don't have to guess, you can always ask them," Napoleon answered sharply then watched thin-lipped as the speedometer nudged past 100.
By the time they crossed back into France it had turned cooler, and when they stopped at the border, Illya raised the top of the car.
As they pulled away from the crossing, Napoleon put his hand on Illya's shoulder. "There are much better ways to burn off adrenaline than flirting with death on the Autobahn."
"You would know," Illya muttered.
Illya stayed silent and in another moment the hand was gone. Napoleon leaned back in his seat and closed his eyes. "Wake me when we get to Paris," he said.
Illya shifted gears and the car picked up speed. He liked driving. He liked the illusion of freedom it gave him, as though he could just keep moving and never stop. When they first went out on assignments together, as often as not Napoleon would drive. But over time, it was Illya who reached for the car keys, who automatically went to the driver's side. When Napoleon finally noticed, being Napoleon, he assumed it was a perk of his position to have a chauffeur.
One day soon he would ask Napoleon what he wanted, but not today. Not until he knew what answer he was looking for. Not until he'd decided what he was willing to give.