Mandor is dead. Illya’s looking up at him from his crouched position, eyes simply tired this time, not full of that terrifying blank stupor. Napoleon shakes his head to clear the unpleasant image of his partner blinking at him in the cell, uncaring and listless, and looks down at the body instead. Mandor only gave them two of the three names before dying, but that doesn’t change the fact that they need to leave, ASAP, or they’ll be joining him in a messy death.
“Come on, up and at ‘em. We’ve only got minutes before those motorcycle THRUSHies show up.”
And thankfully, miraculously, Illya rises of his own power. He leans on the wall for a moment, but only to get his feet under him. Napoleon hovers more than is probably required, but the ghostly after-image of Illya (“Is my name Illya?”) loose-limbed and confused and helpless is fresh in his mind.
They leave the bodies behind; UNCLE will deal with the cleanup. For now, time is of the essence. Napoleon navigates them out of the maze of Valendros’s castle once again, Illya’s hand clamped in his own even though it is not strictly necessary anymore, and they hit daylight just before the sound of mufflers starts to waffle up into the valley like thunder.
“Mandor’s dead, sir. Valendros, too,” Napoleon reports while leaning against the window of the sedan Mr. Waverly’s kept idling in the driveway while he and Illya went into the fortress of a mansion to try and deal with the out of control situation. Not that it did them much good. He can’t say he’s sorry Velandros managed to get that final shot off; he wanted to kill Mandor himself more times than he’s comfortable admitting now. But he is sorry they don’t have that final name.
“Very good, Mr. Solo. Pity you weren’t able to complete the mission fully. But we can worry about that later. I’m afraid we’re about to have company,” Waverly says in his usual calm way of grossly underestimating danger. “Why don’t you and Mr. Kuryakin take Mandor’s car, provide a bit of a distraction. I’ll arrange for flights back to New York in the morning. I’ll expect a full report,” he says, even as the driver nods nervously to Napoleon and puts the car in reverse.
The sound of engines roaring draws nearer, and Illya pulls against him towards the spare car. He hadn’t realized they were still hanging on to one another. He reluctantly pulls his hand away to move towards the driver’s side of the car.
By some mercy, Napoleon finds the car keys under the floor mat, and Illya does him the favor of strapping himself into the passenger seat without fumbling or fainting or being sick. Solo puts the car in gear and flies down the road away from the cursed castle, away, too, from Waverly and the girl.
“Are you alright?” He asks, eight miles away, when the sounds of small engines are entirely faded into the distance. He risks a glance at the man next to him.
Illya waves a hand. “Fine,” he says, but nothing else. No biting remarks about Napoleon’s mother hen nature, or even about their failure to get the third name.
Napoleon chews his lip. “We’ll stop at a hotel. The plane doesn’t take off until tomorrow, anyhow.” Normally this is where Illya would fight him, but the man just nods and lays his head against the passenger window.
A soft mumble, a sigh, and then an audible, “I’m fine. Just tired.”
Napoleon clutches the steering wheel and tries not to think about how long Valendros had him. He drives until the sun is setting, and a motel sign appears on the left side of the road, lit up in neon like a sign from heaven. He pulls in, pays with cash from Mandor’s glove compartment, and guides Illya into their room for the night.
It’s third rate, at best, but they’ve slept in much worse. The beds are clean if ragged, and there’s an attached bathroom that has a tub and a set of mismatched floral towels. He leads Illya to the bed nearest the bathroom by the elbow. It doesn’t take much to get him sitting down on it, and the knot of nerves that never quite left Napoleon's gut starts to grow now that they’re out of immediate danger.
“Let’s have a look at you.” He takes Illya’s head in his hands, gently, and tilts it towards the light from the nightstand. No obvious bruising, and he doesn’t seem to have any lumps. His ears and nose are free of blood, and he lets Napoleon draw his eyes wide with a thumb and forefinger.
“I told you. I’m just tired.”
Napoleon harumphs and continues his inspection. “Do you know what they gave you? Was it oral or an injection?”
Illya shrugs. “I was unconscious most of the time.” He closes his eyes and rubs at his arm. “Injection, I think.”
The admission deepens Napoleon’s frown. He unbuttons the shirt at the collar and pulls it down over Illya’s shoulder to get a look. The skin is turning livid with bruising, and a handful of red pinpricks mark the inelegant administration of whatever drug they used to half brainwash him.
“Just let me sleep it off, Napoleon. Please?”
Against his better judgement, Napoleon sighs and nods. He gets a glass of water to put next to the bed, helps Illya out of his shirt and shoes and trousers until he’s just in his under things, and tucks him under the covers like a child.
“He’s really dead?” Illya asks, voice heavy with sleep as Napoleon turns out the lights.
He’s not sure which man he’s referring to, but the answer to either is yes, so he says, “Very,” and hopes that helps. It must, because by the time Napoleon is stripped of his own clothes and sliding into the bed a foot to the left, Illya’s breathing is slow and deep.
Illya wakes, unsure of what roused him. It’s dark out, still. It can’t have been more than a few hours since they holed up here. Can’t have been more than half a day since he was taken off the side of the road.
He sits up in bed, sips at the glass of water he doesn’t quite remember Napoleon leaving out for him, and lets his head thump back against the wallpaper. He sighs, deep, and tries to remember what happened beyond the glossed-over (taken, drugged, rescued) version that is clogging his mind.
Sitting there in the dark, something clicks in Illya’s brain (I was betrayed by Mandor). Even as he hears Napoleon wake up, his mind is slipping blank (I was betrayed by Mandor) and quiet (I was betrayed by Mandor).
Napoleon’s hands are at the back of his neck again, shaking him, and Illya realizes serenely that he’s half spilled onto the floor. He’s not sure how that happened. He was on the bed, drinking his glass of water, and now he’s not. (I was betrayed by Mandor.) The carpet is scratchy and smells of cat piss, and he starts to giggle.
“Illya! Snap out of it!”
But he can’t. He can’t, even as Napoleon’s arms reach around him and hoist him back onto the bed with that surprising coiled strength that he has. Even as Napoleon is turning on the lamp and tipping his head back to look into his eyes. Illya shivers under his hands, dressed only in his undershirt and boxers. He wants to reassure Napoleon, but every time he tries to speak -- I was betrayed by Mandor.
He’s been saying it outloud. He hadn’t realized. Napoleon’s hands are running down the length of him, looking for what he has no idea, but he leans into his palm when his hand returns to Illya’s forehead. He pushes against it, desperate to communicate something, anything. His body refuses to obey him, his mind is not his own. He’s terrified, and still laughing.
“Illya, you’re scaring me.”
“I was betrayed by Mandor.”
A hot sting as Napoleon slaps him, then a gasping shock as the remainder of the glass of water is dumped on his face.
“Mandor is dead. So is Valendros. Wake up!”
And then Napoleon is kissing him, the force of it driving Illya’s head into the pillow and sucking the air out of him. His mouth is hot and wet and desperate. Illya is just as desperate, so he kisses back. He wants to reach up and pull him in, but his arms won’t listen. Napoleon pulls away, and Illya can’t help the moan that comes out of him, or the second satisfied moan when Napoleon’s hands find his face again.
“Look at me.”
Illya looks at him. He’s beautiful. He’s pretty sure he’s always known this, but it’s different now, on the bed looking up at him, seeing not the carefully controlled Don Juan, but the man on the brink of losing control. A brown-eyed mirror of his own fear.
“Are you with me?”
And somehow, Illya is. He nods. He licks his lips and tries again. “I--” He stops himself, shakes himself, tries to beat his skull against the headboard, but Napoleon catches him and holds him still against the pillow. He can feel Napoleon’s pulse, fast and hot, against his skin. It takes everything he has to say, “I am,” and he bites down the betrayed and by and Mandor and swallows them.
He must forget to breathe, because Napoleon is over him again, rubbing a fist hard across his sternum nearly to bruising until he sucks in a breath. The words don’t follow. He smiles. “I am.”
“You are what, Illya? You can do this, fight it.”
“I.” He has to pause again, and Napoleon’s fingers tighten around him. A comforting reversal of his previous captivity. “I am with you,” he finally gets out, and the relief of saying it rushes through him like a tidal wave, leaving him empty of everything but Napoleon’s thrumming pulse where his hands connect with Illya’s skin.
“I’m with you,” he repeats, and looks at Napoleon, looks at his frightened face above his own. His hands shake as he lifts them off the bed and tangles them in Napoleon’s hair.
It’s a slow kiss, unlike the first. Still warm and still desperate, but hesitating. Careful. He pulls him in until Napoleon is pressed on top of him, braced on a forearm and his other hand wrapped around Illya’s head, possessively. But Illya is the one who pulls him down, locks his hands in his hair, and presses himself up into Napoleon's mouth.
“You had me worried there,” he says against Illya’s lips, breath hot and teasing. Illya doesn’t want to think about it, about his sore shoulder from the needle punctures, about the drug that’s probably not entirely out of his system yet, about how close they cut it. Again. It’s the job. It won’t be the last time.
He pulls Napoleon in until they’re flush. “The reward seems worth it.”
Napoleon’s hands slide down his ribs, and Illya’s breath catches in his throat. It’s amazing they haven’t done this before. It seems inevitable now, with Napoleon touching him, that they would always get to this point. Now, later, the timing doesn’t matter, only the result. The inescapable feeling of Napoleon’s lips against his own.
The lips stop. “Should I be worried?”
Illya wraps his arms tighter around Napoleon’s neck. “Hm?”
Napoleon sighs, breaks the hold with more ease than Illya is happy about, and flops to lay astride him. They lay there, both on their backs, sides touching from shoulder to ankle. “We’ll talk when Medical clears you. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that.”
Illya throws an arm over his eyes. “I’m not drugged, Napoleon. Not in that sense, anyhow.”
“You were suggestable back in that cell, and don’t try to argue it.” His voice cracks as he adds, “You didn’t know your own name, Illya.”
They lay there, quietly. The blankets are balled up somewhere off to the side, but the night is hot, and Illya doesn’t find he minds being exposed. The feeling of Napoleon against him is comforting enough that he starts to doze off.
“I look forward to that talk.”
“Hmmm,” he says again, the sound of it reverberating through his body and into Illya’s. There’s no mistaking the sleepy smile in Napoleon’s voice. “Me too.”