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Tiger, Tiger

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I.

Napoleon was about to launch into his carefully scripted spiel of punctuated disdain when he hesitated, hands still cupped over the delicate little Soviet-made devices that he had found in his room. There was a faint but unmistakable sensation crawling under his skin, a prickling, restless buzz, like getting light-headed off good champagne, and Napoleon narrowed his eyes, script forgotten, studying an increasingly irritated-looking Illya with a new light.

Illya, on the other hand, had folded his arms. His bowtie looked ridiculous with his suit, highlighting the far too long expanse between his shirt collar and belly, and he was starting to scowl. “What?” he demanded again, a flat curl of annoyance making his tone harsh, and Napoleon nearly flinched instinctively back before all the enforced training kicked in.

Years ago, Napoleon had complained strenuously when Sanders had strong-armed him into the CIA’s training classes for alphas. He was in the prime of his life and no longer some sort of schoolboy, easily turned by an omega’s seasonal pheromones, or so he had said at the time. Now the training kicked in, and Napoleon breathed a little more rapidly and through his mouth, to dilute the effect. Illya seemed to notice, smirking faintly.

“You’re an omega,” Napoleon grit out, once his head had cleared a little. “That wasn’t in your… I thought you were null.”

“Very rude thing to say. We are in public.” Illya said dryly, which was true. This was not at all a polite conversation for a public space. Napoleon continued to stare dumbly, however, blinking, not even managing to find the effort to make some sort of apology, until Illya finally sighed and backed away into the room. “Come in then. But don’t make scene. Gaby is having delicate morning.”

Napoleon found himself breathing more heavily as he followed Illya into the room. He wanted to leave the door open, and hesitated indecisively until Illya added curtly, “Close the door,” and then his fingers were closing on the doorknob and pulling, even before his brain registered the thought. Illya had wandered over to stand by the balcony, and Napoleon stayed warily by the door as the effect seemed to ease, slowly. Gaby was nowhere to be seen, though the door to the bedroom seemed resolutely and pointedly closed.

Illya did not look or act like the Hollywood concept of an omega. There was too much anger in him, a prickly violent temper at odds with the empathy that omegas were meant to have in abundance, that instinctive capacity to sympathise, to be kind. Illya was like bladed flint.

“Talk.” Illya said flatly, once the door had closed. “Or are you here to waste time again?”

“What the hell happened here?” Napoleon stared at the wreckage in the hotel room. The glass table was on its side, as were several of the chairs; one of the paintings had been knocked clean off the wall, and several bottles of alcohol were shattered, glass shards everywhere.

Illya sniffed. “Gaby wanted to dance,” he said shortly, with no humour in his tone or eyes whatsoever.

“Gaby?” Napoleon raised his voice slightly, now worried, despite himself. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine!” Gaby shouted back, distinctly muffled. “Go away!”

Napoleon gave up and took a deep breath and said, more quietly, “Are you sure you should be going out if you’re about to… well, go into…”

“Season?” Illya finished dispassionately. “Not at all.”

“You sure as hell are.”

Again that cold, knife-like smirk. “Many useful drugs come out of Russia. We have Pill – KGB makes better version, not like your high dose American one with side effects. We also have version that allows pheromone release without actual season. Useful when going to meet pack of alphas.”

Useful? You’re going to cause a riot.”

“Don’t exaggerate. This is mild version. Also, effect will be minimised outdoors.”

“Hardly a subtle disguise, is it?” Napoleon asked weakly. It was getting difficult to concentrate, and he had forgotten why he had come down here in the first place.

“I don’t think any alpha coming to talk to me today will remember my face,” Illya said, and prowled over, his smirk growing wider. Napoleon didn’t realize that he had backed away to the door until his shoulders hit the heavy wood. “Problem, Cowboy?” Illya asked, when he was within arm’s reach, and suddenly the room felt far too hot, all at once.

“What about Gaby?”

“She is null.”

“Your bowtie doesn’t suit your clothes,” Napoleon blurted out, trying not to stare at Illya’s neck, and fled, all but scrambling out of the room. He only felt calmer when he was back in his own, and after a long, dazed moment spent breathing deeply and gratefully, Napoleon realized that he was still holding the goddamned trackers. With a sigh, he deposited them in the closest drawer, then went to pour himself a drink.

Napoleon’s arousal had eased by the time he was down one glass of scotch, and he lay on the couch and groaned to himself. That was what Illya thought of as a mild version? He had to be joking. If Illya had come any closer, Napoleon would have gone for his throat. Or his dick. Napoleon wasn’t entirely sure. He had never met an omega before who had managed to force an effect as thorough as this, a maddening sort of skin-deep intoxication. It had to be altered pheromones of some sort. Trust the Soviets to weaponise omegas.

Well. He could be an adult about this, surely. Napoleon drank the scotch and dragged himself off to the race and afterwards, when he caught up with Illya and Gaby in their room, Illya smelled null again. The rest of the mission, to Napoleon’s relief, passed them by without a repeat of That Unfortunate Incident, as Napoleon had come to think of that in his mind, and he thought no more about it, even after Waverly shanghaied them all into an unlikely new life.

1.0.

“What was that all about?” Gaby peered warily out from the bedroom once Napoleon had cleared out. Her make-up hadn’t yet been put on, nor had her hair been tamed, though she was dressed in her new frock.

Illya shrugged. “American sensibilities.” He smiled at her, sharply amused: Gaby looked considerably hungover. “Ready to go, Chopshop girl?”

Gaby rolled her eyes. “Obviously not. What did Solo want?”

“No idea. I think he wanted to lecture me on something or other but forgot.” Illya did, however, grudgingly remove the bowtie. He hadn’t been sure about it, having dithered between it and a normal tie. Illya didn’t like wearing ties. The neck felt constricted and, in close combat, ties offered an opponent a golden opening, if grabbed.

“Why’s that?”

“Alphas can get confused when omegas smell like they are coming into season.”

Gaby’s eyes went wide and round. “You’re…? You’re an omega? I thought you were an alpha! Wait. I’m sorry I said that. That’s not nice. But. Are you all right? Are you getting a headache? My mother used to get headaches. Do you want to lie down?”

“Firstly, it is not a real heat, it is a pill,” Illya said slowly, surprised at the sudden torrential concern. Gaby had even opened her door a fraction wider, as though she was about to step out. “Second… headache is not good sign. Maybe she should see a doctor.”

Gaby smiled wryly. “My late mother, I think I should’ve said. Getting the Pill was difficult after the war. Living without it gave her the headaches.” Gaby paused, studying Illya more closely. “This is another pill?”

“Yes?”

“Um, is this a good idea? I mean. We’re going into a public space.” Gaby hesitated. “And, er. How should I say this? Uncle Rudi is an alpha.”

“Why then,” Illya drawled, “Maybe you have to protect my virtue.” He smirked.

Gaby scowled at him. “I was just asking!”

“I have used this pill before and have not caused riot, if that is what you wanted to know.”

“Then Napoleon?”

Illya shrugged. “Is sensitive?” That had been an interesting revelation. A chink in Napoleon Solo’s armour of a composure. Making him flee had been… amusing. It would’ve been just as amusing to knock Solo to the floor, if Solo had tried anything else.

“All right,” Gaby said dubiously. “If you’re sure.”

“I will meet you outside foyer.” Illya started to check his watch, then he scowled to himself and let his arm drop. “Ten minutes.”

II.

They were in Brazil when Napoleon realized exactly how weaponised Illya really was. He’d previously seen how entirely focused Illya was on keeping ‘in shape’ during his downtime: Illya seemed to spend downtime in an endless cycle of gym, martial arts practice sessions, and the U.N.C.L.E. gun range. Napoleon supposed that it made a terribly KGB sort of efficient logic that their agents were completely armed in every possible sense of the word.

The KGB safehouse was a narrow building on the outskirts of a favela in Rio de Janeiro. Somehow, by some Russian miracle and/or black magic, there was water, via a tap in the basement, but there was no electricity, and the available sanitation was… basic, to say the least. Sadly, the CIA safehouses were full, thanks to the CIA’s extensive ops in Brazil at this point in time, and the U.N.C.L.E. safehouse, which was in a more palatable part of town, was a smoking wreck, through circumstances that Napoleon would never admit were his fault, ever.

Napoleon had been vaguely relieved that Gaby was elsewhere, working an undercover role in the considerably more comfortable environs of the US embassy, but it did mean that he was stuck in a stinking, dark hovel with only Illya for company and nothing to do.

They conserved their candles, lighting only one for the top floor room. Napoleon was curled on a wobbly chair close to one of the narrow windows, trying not to breathe in too deeply. The night breeze had made being in the favela somewhat more tolerable, but not by much. Illya had spent the evening prowling around the lower floors, then he had obsessively cleaned his Makarov pistol, and then he had brought himself a glass of water and had taken a glass pillbox out from under his jacket.

Napoleon noticed with open curiosity that there were four types of pills in four chambers, with the most being some sort of beige pill, in the largest section. Illya noticed him staring, but strangely enough, said nothing even as he swallowed one of the beige pills and drank from the glass. In the end, Napoleon had to break the silence. “So… I guess that’s the normal Pill.”

“Obviously.”

Napoleon swallowed a sigh. Illya had warmed up considerably to Gaby, but with Napoleon he remained neutral, even distant. “What do the others do?”

For a moment, Napoleon thought that Illya was going to ignore the question or brush it off, but Illya merely stared at him for a moment longer. “Red neutralises all effects of Pill. Makes season come early. Takes twenty-four hours. Green temporarily heightens empathy. Good for problem solving or concentrating. Fast acting but bad comedown. Blue is the pheromone release. Also fast acting.”

“Why would you ever want to take the red pill?”

Illya sniffed. “Unlike your sordid American movies going into season is nothing like what you think it is. Especially for trained agent. Good for going on full offensive. Senses are sharper, one is faster. Also, one-fourth of people in the world have alpha gene and they are all male. Because your kind are naturally more aggressive they often go into armed forces or security. When someone wants to fuck you they usually aren’t trying to shoot back.”

Napoleon was going to say something about being torn between horror and fascination but what actually came out of his mouth was, “I’m not naturally more aggressive.”

“Of course,” Illya drawled, “There is more logical reason I have overlooked for why you entered Army, then became thief, then very successful agent.”

“The first was a youthful misadventure, the second was natural progression and the third was penance,” Napoleon pointed out, with what he hoped was a disarming smile.

Illya was not charmed. “Surely CIA has omega agents.”

“We do, and null people, men and women. I’ve never heard of… ah… these adaptations. To the Pill.”

Napoleon didn’t add that the CIA’s omegas weren’t usually field agents. Most were profilers, or handlers. The heightened understanding of human nature that came with the omega gene made them excellent falconers - and strategists. It had been an almost exclusively omega think tank that had netted Napoleon himself, after all. Illya was an anomaly to him: though, then again, Napoleon hadn’t met that many KGB agents up close before, and Illya was the first one he’d ever had to work with.

“Not surprised. Typical CIA lack of imagination.” Illya, however, smirked faintly, and by now Napoleon was familiar with that look: it meant someone was probably about to get mauled. “I never managed to ask before. That time when you came to hotel room during Vinciguerra mission. What were you there for?”

“I was going to protest your tendency to seed all your co-workers with trackers.”

“Ah.” Illya reached under the collar of his jacket, and pulled out a small black plastic square. “You mean higher tech version of this?”

“I forgot about that one,” Napoleon said glibly.

“And the ones in lining of my suitcase and in hat band?”

“Those too?” Napoleon grinned, however, unrepentant, and the sharpness of Illya’s smirk seemed to fade into something more akin to amusement.

“I suppose you are not like normal alpha,” Illya conceded.

“I don’t know what alphas are like past the Iron Curtain,” Napoleon said mildly, “But we’re not exactly cavemen, or whatever you think the alpha gene does.”

“You are built like an alpha,” Illya noted. “And you are always convinced that you are right. That is mindset of alpha gene. But I have never had alpha run away from pheromone tactic. You prefer nulls?”

“I’ve no preference. But Gaby was in the room, and there was glass everywhere, and…” Napoleon groped for words, a novel experience where he was concerned. “Besides, you were just doing that for the mission, and…”

He trailed off, because Illya was now chuckling, all silent, rough huffs, a merciless sort of schadenfreude. The anger that Illya seemed to wear constantly right under his skin was blackened at the edges with a blind sort of hatred of the world; a world that had tried to shatter Illya and grind him to dust, but had only succeeded in grinding him into flint. Illya without the gentleness he wore around Gaby was both mesmerizing and terrifying, and Napoleon had ever been fascinated by danger.

“Why,” Napoleon said testily, “Would you rather I tried to jump you on the spot? You’d have knifed me in the ribs!”

“Maybe,” Illya agreed. “But it would have made me laugh.”

“Before or after I bled out on the floor?”

Illya let out another gravelly huff. “Still thinking.”

Napoleon sighed. “Well. I’m glad to amuse?”

“There. You are doing it again.” Illya had sobered up. “If I could not sense you I would have thought you were null.”

“Why? Can’t an alpha make an omega laugh in Russia?”

Illya shrugged. “Alphas are elemental. Closer to animal. The alpha gene is the so-called missing link gene, no? They have uses but… not often in higher office. Or in delicate ops.”

“There are no alphas in the KGB?” Napoleon blinked. “Really?”

“There are. All people have functions. But as field agents? No. Many have… natural self-control problems. Besides. People notice alphas. Bad for spy work.”

“And yet here I am.”

“You are bad spy,” Illya corrected, though he smirked. “However, good thief. Somehow.”

“Ouch.”

“Think of it this way. At least you are good at something.”

“Peril,” Napoleon said sadly, “I think at the end of this mission with you I’m going to have suffered permanent damage to my ego.”

“You? Impossible.”

Napoleon laughed, startled, and was surprised that he did so: not that the bubble of mirth lasted long, not with Illya frowning slightly at him, as though studying a puppy that had just performed a trick incorrectly. “Tired,” Illya said suddenly, and gathered up his pillbox, pocketing it away. “Early day tomorrow.”

“Good night,” Napoleon offered, and watched, puzzled, as Illya nodded curtly at him and disappeared in the direction of the closest room with a cot. Odd. For a moment, Napoleon had actually thought that Illya was starting to let his guard down a little. Pity.

2.0.

The KGB safehouse had two rooms equipped with beds, but the beds were small, with rusty frames and mattresses infested with bugs. Illya opted to sleep in a chair, propped against a wall. Thanks to his stint in the Special Forces, he was well equipped to sleep anywhere, anywhen, but tonight Illya found himself leaning against the wall, tired but not tired enough, frustrated.

He had been originally reluctant to join U.N.C.L.E., and had been resistant to it all the way to the end, when Waverly had finally engaged in some sort of magical horse-trading, transferring Illya permanently to the U.N.C.L.E. roster. The same had been done with Solo’s CIA leash, but Solo had seemed considerably more cheerful about it. With Gaby as their handler/junior agent in training, life had become - though not comfortable - perhaps more pleasant.

U.N.C.L.E. missions had seemed impossibly naive, at first, concerned more with matters of so-called ‘global security’, but Illya had grown to enjoy them. They were far more difficult than what he was used to in the KGB, and often with far fewer resources at play. Solo proved to be useful here: he had contacts from his ‘previous life’, many of which still seemed willing to be charmed over.

Charm. That was the problem with Solo. Illya did not trust people easily, but somehow Solo had wormed into Illya’s blind side. It had started with the Vinciguerra mission and had only become worse. Working with Solo was easy now: Solo seemed to intuitively know how to fit against Illya. He was helpful and he was mostly unobtrusive, for all his original claims to prefer working alone. And he was charming. Often, Illya forgot completely that Solo was even an alpha. Solo did have an immense ego, verging on megalomania, but his charm was so disarming that sometimes even Gaby forgot to puncture his preening.

Illya had always been somewhat strange, for an omega. Too large, too tall; too violent, too angry. He had settled only uneasily into a world in which misfits with the wrong family had few options, and resentment had long festered into his bones. Alphas avoided him either instinctively or after they’d had a more intimate encounter with the easy brutality that Illya tended to wear, skin-deep. Save for that amusing incident when Solo had encountered Illya’s use of the adaptive pills for the first time, however, Solo had gone back to treating Illya like one of the nulls. At first it had been curious, and then irritating, and now-

He pushed a palm between his thighs, sucking in an irritated gasp: his trousers were growing tighter. Breathing through gritted teeth, Illya pressed down, harder, until pain and frustration killed his arousal.

Solo was going to be a problem.

III.

Singapore was a simmering pot that had already boiled over spectacularly a month before and was, by Napoleon’s estimate, leading towards a second explosion of violent racial sentiment sometime soon. Hopefully, they wouldn’t be around for that. U.N.C.L.E. was here by the sufferance of an old MI6 friend of Waverly’s, on the tail of stolen canisters of a particularly virulent new version of Agent Orange, and the scent was fast growing cold, to Napoleon’s profound annoyance.

Illya was out on surveillance, something that Napoleon wasn’t entirely sure was a good idea. Even Napoleon towered over the locals. Next to them, Illya was a veritable giant. Granted, thanks to Singapore’s long-standing British influence there were a fair number of expatriates around, but Napoleon was fairly sure that Illya’s attempts to crack the Red Dragon’s smuggling ring by sneaking around was doomed from the start. He’d be seen a mile away, Napoleon had told him. After all, the country was tiny and fairly flat.

Naturally, Illya had only rolled his eyes when Napoleon had suggested this, and had wandered off anyway. Napoleon had spent the night wining and dining Gaby in the colonial grandeur of the Raffles Hotel’s main dining room, and was now spending the rest of his evening draped over his bed, overheated and bored. The air conditioning was making a heroic effort, but it was an uphill battle, and getting fresh air was not an option: the seemingly constant humidity made stepping outside feel like a slap in the face. Not even the local omegas had felt like a draw. All Napoleon wanted to do in this stiflingly humid heat was sleep, or possibly, catch a flight somewhere else where his fine clothes wouldn’t promptly stick to his skin within minutes of walking about in the open air.

When Napoleon heard the door to his room open, he could barely manage the effort to reach for his Walther, still feeling sorry for himself. Thankfully, it was Illya, who looked around the room, then noticed Napoleon on the bed and sighed. “Night time is not so bad. Take a walk.”

“That’s what you told me yesterday and I fell for it,” Napoleon pointed out mournfully. “Fool me once-“

“You can’t always have operated in cold climate.”

“We’re just about sitting right on the equator, Peril,” Napoleon groaned. “It’s weighing down on me. Why on earth did the British decide to build a port here?

“Apparently it was strategic,” Illya said dryly, though to Napoleon’s surprise he wandered into the room and sat on the edge of the bed. “But we will have to leave soon. Too many firebrands. Another riot is coming.”

“Imagine that. Maybe it’s the weather.”

“Young government. Difficult time.” Illya ignored him. “Our governments not faring so well.”

“You mean, hm, what with Kennedy getting assassinated last year, and the ongoing Vietnam War, and God knows what other mischief we’ve all been up to-“

“All governments have problems. Communist, capitalist, socialist… small group of people trying to control many.” Illya glanced away, towards the tall, Colonial-style white windows. “Difficult.”

“Oh, I think our countries have been able to avoid absolute chaos so far.” Illya was in a strange mood. Maybe it was the incipient bloodletting in the air. Tension had been thick on the street, when Napoleon had ventured out in the morning to take a look at the lay of the land, and his instincts had felt stretched out on a tightwire the whole day.

“Not enough. Government should work for collective betterment.”

“Difficult when politics is a blood sport. There’s opposition parties, the general public, ‘interest groups’, unions-“

“Difficult,” Illya agreed. “Top down government would work in small country. Very small. First they crush political dissent. Then other factions.”

“Then… revolution?”

“In small country you can control the media and school syllabus,” Illya said reflectively. “Then as you reform economy you hide iron fist. Fatten up the cows and control how they think, and they will not even consider kicking down the paddock. Especially if the paddock is all that they can see.”

“You’d need a damned big paddock for Russia.” Napoleon wondered where this was going. Technically, Illya shouldn’t even be in his room. It had been generally decided that unless it was unavoidable, Illya would room with Gaby and their covers would reflect this. It was… less complicated that way. Alphas tended to be loners until they mated.

“I know. Russia tried things this way. It did not work. But they keep trying anyway. Too much fear in high places.”

“This is actually the first time I’ve heard you say anything at all about Russia that wasn’t complimentary about the ‘Russian Way’.”

Illya shrugged. “I love my country. I just choose to do so with my eyes open.”

“Not to ruin the moment,” Napoleon said, after a long pause, “But I actually think this is the longest casual conversation we’ve ever had.”

“Too late. Moment ruined.” Illya, however, smirked instead of scowling.

“Did something come up?” Napoleon probed, frowning a little. “I’m getting nervous here.”

Illya hesitated for a long moment. Then he exhaled, in a rush. “Talking with… being with you, it is simple. Comfortable.”

“That’s… good…?” Napoleon noted, increasingly puzzled. “Did you fight with Gaby again?”

Instead of bristling, Illya only shot him an odd look. Blonde Russian giants, it seemed, didn’t wear confusion well. “No?”

“So… you… just wanted to… talk?”

Illya let out a sigh. “You are interested in omegas, no? You bedded Victoria Vinciguerra.”

“Well, I’m not picky, but sure.”

“So,” Illya said dryly, “If an omega sits on your bed, do you just talk about politics?”

Oh.

What.

“Just so I don’t get stabbed in the ribs,” Napoleon said cautiously. “All that increasingly strange small talk came about because you were waiting for me to make a move?”

Illya narrowed his eyes, his amusement suddenly gone. “Not interested?”

“Wait, wait wait, let me catch up here,” Napoleon pushed himself up onto his elbows. “You could’ve just said something. From the start!”

“Like what?” Illya was growing annoyed. “‘I want to have sex’? Not subtle, is it?”

“There’s subtlety and there’s being too subtle,” Napoleon began, then he scrambled up to grab for Illya’s arm when Illya started to get up. “Okay. Just checking one more time. This is not some sort of joke? Or a dare? I wouldn’t put that beyond Gaby.”

“I think I know who to talk to for lead on weapons theft. Unfortunately, it will probably be violent,” Illya said, in an apparent non sequitur.

Unless-

“You took the red pill,” Napoleon guessed, and tried to sniff the air as subtly as he could. “I don’t-“

“Takes twenty-four hours. I took it two hours ago.” Illya’s eyes were a little dilated, Napoleon finally realized. “Timing full effect for tomorrow evening. Until then, this is easiest way to control biochemical rebalancing.”

“Sex?” Napoleon asked, still half-expecting a sucker punch to come in from somewhere. He was glad that he’d worn the complimentary dressing gown. Trousers would have embarrassed him by now, with Illya so close, even though he smelled null, those incredibly blue eyes-

“Sex with alpha,” Illya corrected. “Unless you’re not interested,” he added, with one of his sharp smirks, at which point Napoleon gave in to sheer curiosity and tried to kiss Illya and found himself pinned to the bed for his trouble.

“Make up your mind,” Napoleon said breathlessly, as Illya pressed his weight onto Napoleon’s wrists, indenting the sheets.

“I don’t like to spread my legs.” At Napoleon’s confused stare, Illya pointedly pushed a thigh between Napoleon’s, parting his robe, the rough seam of Illya’s trousers dragging intimately against Napoleon’s inner thigh. “Prefer to top.”

“The way you smell right now… if you want to fuck me instead, sure,” Napoleon said, trying to keep his tone steady. “But once you start to, ah… or is this red pill’s effect all at once or-“

“You are not like an alpha,” Illya said, amused again, and grazed his teeth teasingly against Napoleon’s jaw, and made his low, huffing laugh when Napoleon whined. “Once I am… closer, I will be less picky. But I will still need to do mission,” he added. “Tomorrow. Evening. Without you interfering.”

Napoleon groaned. He had already had a taste of what Illya was like with a ‘mild’ pheromone effect. The full version was going to be deadly. “You’re either going to have to wear me out or handcuff me to the bed,” Napoleon admitted honestly. “Both hands.”

“I know,” Illya said, and chuckled again, his smile wolfish now. “I think we will manage. Cowboy.”

Napoleon’s was starting to feel lightheaded; his next breath stuttered in his throat. “I’ll… go get cleaned up-“

“No need yet. Lie still. You move, I bite.” Illya nipped Napoleon under his jaw, hard enough to sting, and made a rumbling sound of satisfaction at Napoleon’s startled yelp. “Leave your hands here.” He pressed Napoleon’s wrists pointedly into the sheets, at either side of his head, and then slowly undid the knot on Napoleon’s dressing gown, as though unwrapping some sort of present, teasingly meticulous.

Napoleon was starting to squirm by the time Illya pulled his robe open, and his cock was hard, curved against his belly and leaking. Illya ignored it, straddling Napoleon’s waist, reaching back to pull off his shoes, and toss them off the bed, then he removed the knife hidden up his trouser leg, and tossed the sheath aside as well. Finally, Illya got his shirt off, tacky with sweat, and Napoleon drank in the sight greedily. Illya was lean, with the compact ropy muscle of a soldier, marked with scars. Napoleon’s hands twitched, and then he was yelping as Illya abruptly bent to bite him hard, high on the shoulder.

“Hey!” Napoleon protested, incredulous. “You drew blood. Easy there, Peril!”

“I know I did,” Illya said, clearly licking it off his teeth dear God, and Napoleon didn’t resist as Illya pressed his wrists back in place. “Now stay still. Or I bite harder the next time.”

Sadly, that seemed to be about it for Napoleon’s nerves for the night, which promptly decided to fray thin as Illya seemed to prefer to take his time… studying Napoleon. There was no other way to describe it. Illya would press a curious kiss on a nipple and then lick at the other until it pebbled and then seemingly lose interest and explore the old knife scar above Napoleon’s left kidney, nipping and licking until Napoleon was writhing and hissing. Napoleon got bitten again when Illya kissed lower, to his pelvis, the fucking tease; he had just tried to squirm over to give Illya more access.

“Illya please,” Napoleon begged, because it was either that or make a grab for Illya and that was definitely going to be a fight he would lose, dazed as he was with lust and drowning. “Have some mercy.”

Illya’s eyes seemed to gleam as he glanced up at Napoleon, and he kissed Napoleon’s thigh, pressing his smirk against the tensing flesh. “Soon. Patience.”

“Just… your hand. Use your hand. Please.”

“I’m not going to touch your cock, Cowboy,” Illya said, and now his smile was all teeth. “You won’t need that to come.”

“You’re going to kill me,” Napoleon accused him, but Illya chuckled and kissed up to his knee. By the time Illya finally seemed to tire of his game and leaned on up to kiss Napoleon, Napoleon was shaky with lust and bleeding gently from a handful of bites, moaning into the kiss. He could smell Illya getting slick and it was maddening, a musky, spicy scent. That buzzing, prickling sensation was back under his skin, if milder, and this time, Illya was too close, too much.

“You smell it too,” Illya murmured, as he hauled Napoleon’s robe off him, Napoleon fumbling to help. He didn’t remember when Illya himself had stripped down, and found that he didn’t care. Illya naked was glorious. There was something beautifully efficient about his grace, even like this, something ruthless about how unselfconscious he was, his long cock thickening against one powerful thigh. Napoleon resisted a little as Illya tried to turn him onto his front, but when he received a sharp nip on his shoulder for his trouble, he gave in, pressing his cock with blind gratefulness into the sheets, only to hiss as Illya smacked him sharply on the ass.

“Don’t do that,” Illya instructed.

Napoleon groaned, and buried his face in the pillow, although he obligingly and reluctantly lifted his hips off the sheets, digging his knees into the bed. “If I die, tell Gaby she can have my things.”

“Don’t be melodramatic.” Illya bit him on the back of his neck, though more playfully, this time, and then pushed his hips up, higher, until Napoleon had to brace himself against the headboard.

“By the way, in case you’ve forgotten, alphas can’t, uh, take things dry-“

“Shut up,” Illya bit him again, this time over his hip, and Napoleon stiffened as he heard a wet, squelching sound. Illya was fingering himself. Napoleon tried to sneak a look but got bitten again for his trouble, and subsided, trembling, as Illya made another rumbling sound, of hunger this time, predatory and still so very amused. Fingers slippery from Illya’s own slick pressed between Napoleon’s legs, rubbing liberally over sensitive inner thighs, even as Illya growled, “Legs together, Cowboy. Give me a ride.”

“Don’t ever say that again, please,” Napoleon said, though he obeyed, even as Illya chuckled, the huffs pressing hot breaths against the back of Napoleon’s neck, the arch of his spine.

Illya growled as he pressed his cock in the tight pressure of Napoleon’s thighs, wedged under Napoleon’s aching cock, and snapped his hips forward with a low gasp. Napoleon pushed his hips back eagerly and Illya’s next thrust was harder, cock rubbing up roughly against the sensitive skin behind Napoleon’s balls and making him whimper. Napoleon had thought that this wouldn’t have been anywhere near enough but he was wrong; pinned and dizzy with lust his cries grew loud enough that Napoleon had to stifle himself by biting down on his own arm. When his legs finally gave, and Napoleon sprawled on the bed, the sudden sensation of pressure and friction against his cock, on the sheets, was enough - relief at once intense and shattering.

Illya clamped a hand over Napoleon’s mouth to muffle his shout, and waited, until Napoleon weakly batted at his wrist, breathing hard, wide-eyed.

“Not bad,” Illya conceded, as he rolled Napoleon onto his back. Illya’s cock was still hard, an angry red bar, but it didn’t seem to bother him in the least: Illya’s composure seemed still almost perfect, and but for his flushed skin and sweat he looked just as though he’d spent the last hour playing chess with Napoleon instead of launching a concerted attack on Napoleon’s sanity.

“Let me help you with that,” Napoleon offered, reaching for Illya’s cock, but Illya caught Napoleon’s wrist, holding it fast.

“Mm. Not yet.” Illya said, his smile hungry, now, feral. “First, you’re going to eat me out. Until you’re ready to go again. After that, I think maybe I will already be less picky.”

Illya was lying to him about becoming ‘less picky’, Napoleon was fairly sure of that now, but the lust that had hooked deep in his blood didn’t give a damn; at this point, Napoleon was willing to do absolutely anything that Illya wanted. “Move up against the headboard.”

3.0.

The red pill hadn’t been needed after all, but Illya’s KGB trainers had always taught budding agents to try to overestimate an enemy rather than underestimate them. ‘Better to be disappointed than surprised’, or so he had learned. With the Red Dragons, Illya had been mainly disappointed. His one-man raid on their warehouse ‘stronghold’ had gone as planned. He had evaded what he could, killed whomever he had to and had found the sheaf of correspondence hidden under floorboards in a foreman’s office. Some light arson had covered his tracks, and Illya jacked a car to return to the hotel, restless.

Normally, bloodletting would’ve been enough to cool off the ardour in his blood, allowing Illya to just sleep the rest off after a cold shower. Today, he wasn’t sure, and for all that Illya had anticipated this, enough to decide to make up a story so as to have Solo beforehand, while Illya still had all of his self-control, his ploy hadn’t worked after all. He still wanted, and it was getting worse. Illya could try to blame the effects of years of suppressed seasons, but he knew better. This was psychosomatic, and had far more to do with Solo than any perceived side effects.

Illya had planned to sneak into his own room, have the cold shower, or just go straight to bed, curl up with the scent and grit of gunpowder still on his clothes and wait it out. Somehow, he wasn’t entirely surprised to find himself breaking back into Solo’s room instead. The chilled air was welcome but the air conditioning hadn’t done much for the semen and sweat Illya could still smell in the air, his senses working double. The tray from room service had been pushed to a side: they had ordered in once, and Solo hadn’t seemed to have eaten again while Illya was gone.

Prowling over to the bedroom, dropping the satchel containing his pistol on the way, Illya half-expected to find Solo gone. He had only cuffed one wrist, after all, just in case trouble happened and Solo needed access to his Walther. Instead, as Illya walked into the bedroom, he found Solo fast asleep, naked, the sheets in a knot low-slung over his red-marked hips, the way Illya had left him when Illya had woken up from his own, shorter nap, not even stirring as he slunk closer, smirking. Solo’s wrist was still cuffed limply to the bedpost, and Illya bent, to lap a stripe up against the warmed metal and the bruised skin.

Solo woke up with a start, groping instinctively for his pistol, then he relaxed, sniffing, as he recognised Illya. “I gather by the gunpowder smell and the bloodstains on your trousers that you got what you wanted?” Solo’s voice was rusty, still hoarse, and Illya realized dimly that he was hard again, cock pressing urgently against bloodied trousers.

Illya held up the sheaf of papers in silent explanation, then tossed them aside to the desk by the window. “Normally, I sleep the rest of the effect off and take pill in the morning.” Illya stayed carefully out of reach.

Solo licked his lips nervously. “Well, ah, if you do that, mind leaving the key to the cuffs? Or at least pass me my picks.”

“The great Napoleon Solo cannot find a way out of cuffs without tools?”

“Not without hurting myself and damaging the furniture,” Solo pointed out. His breathing was growing shallower, his eyes darkening with lust, but still he stayed where he was on the bed. “Also, just so that I know, are we going to have to make some sort of precipitous exit in the morning?”

“Need to find way north to Brunei.”

“Anywhere but here. Is Brunei as hot? Or as humid?”

“Here is not so bad.” Illya gave in. Somewhere between Istanbul and Brazil his instincts had accepted Napoleon Solo, fully and utterly. That Illya had come here instead of going to take a shower had sealed matters. He bent to kiss Solo on the mouth, demandingly, and felt Solo shiver and groan under his hands.

“You’re sure about this?” Solo asked quietly, as Illya tossed his cap aside, then pulled his shirt off.

Illya chuckled harshly. “I saw two tigers in a zoo once. Female was in heat. She would let the male come close, then-“ Illya bent again, scraping his teeth down the thick vein in Solo’s neck, listening to his strangled moan, “Then she would hit him across his nose, with claws. He would run away,” Illya pressed his tongue against one of the healing bite marks on Solo’s shoulder, “But then he would come back, and she would scratch him again.”

“And in the end?” Napoleon asked, breathless, dazed, his charm scoured away.

“In the end she let him have what she wanted,” Illya purred, and took the key for the cuffs from his trouser pocket, unlocking the cuffs.

Solo surged up, twisting to pin Illya to the bed, wild-eyed. He was hard again, leaking against Illya’s still-clothed thigh, and Illya kissed Solo as they fought Illya’s belt buckle, shoes, trousers and underwear, Solo’s hands often wandering up over Illya’s skin, distracted. When they were both naked, instead of immediately trying to mount Illya, Solo hesitated, breathing hard, noses nudging. “Illya… if you’re going to let me - about my knot-“

“I know,” Illya drawled, and turned around on the bed to face the headboard; he heard Solo let out another strangled breath, then lips closed over his neck. Illya tensed, but Solo didn’t bite, pressing a wet kiss over the nape before shifting to the first knob of his spine. Fingers pushed into him, trembling and impatient, and Illya hissed, arching up, instincts all over the place. Illya could still kill Solo like this if he wanted to, with Solo’s bared throat so close, and he swallowed that thought, pushed against the knuckles rubbing against the wet rim of his hole and groaned instead, urgently.

Illya had expected Solo to say something teasing, but instead Solo gasped and started to fit in a third finger; impatient, Illya reached back and grabbed at his wrist. “That’s enough.”

Solo didn’t argue. The fingers slipped out, and Solo’s breathing deepened, all warm, stuttered huffs against Illya’s shoulder, and when Solo pushed in, Illya was prepared, relaxing himself against the stretch of it, the weight of Solo’s bulk when pressed against his back, Solo’s teeth far too close to Illya’s neck. A groan was still dragged out of Illya when Solo pushed balls deep, and he could already feel the faint swelling width in the flesh stretching him, the start of Solo’s knot.

“You’re so wet,” Solo breathed.

“Don’t state obvious things,” Illya muttered, and clenched tight, smirking as Solo hissed, hips snapping forward. “I know you’re close,” Illya added, as Solo’s hands closed over his flanks, sliding restlessly down to his thighs. “But if you knot me before I come then this is the last time that we do this.”

Solo let out a startled laugh. “You’re really something, Peril,” he said ruefully, though he dropped a slick hand down to curl his fingers around Illya’s cock, even as he started to thrust, carefully at first, until Illya growled and bucked pointedly, then it was better, brutal, sweeter than bloodletting and nearly as violent. Solo’s teeth mauled a track of their own over Illya’s shoulders, the bed creaking under their weight, and Illya could feel Solo’s knot thickening even as Solo instinctively bore down, trying to pin Illya to the bed.

Snarling, Illya twisted pointedly in Solo’s grasp, and Solo whined, a plea that Illya answered with bared teeth over his shoulder and Solo bowed his head, shaky with exhaustion, shifting until he found the right angle to make Illya buck and shout. He was - almost- and Solo started to beg again, gasping, “Please, Illya,” first in English, then in Russian, as Illya started to chuckle, and then Illya was coming into Solo’s clenched hand, all at once.

Instantly, Solo shoved in as deeply as he could, and this time Illya let Solo press him down into the sheets, arching, as the knot caught and pushed further inside him and now Solo was filling him up, keening as Illya clenched down and waited, sleepy now, all but purring as Solo finally turned them over onto their flanks, still tied.

“Illya,” Solo said, once their breathing had eased.

“Is this important? I am very tired.”

“I… no,” Solo let out a rueful, dazed laugh, and kissed Illya lightly over his back. “Just that I’m probably going to be heat-drunk for days, which you might find irritating. Don’t kill me.”

“Hmm,” Illya pretended to consider this. “We shall see.” He did, however, allow Solo to kiss him, later, when the knot had subsided and they had pulled free, and this - perhaps this was not so bad. This, he could live with.

IV.

Napoleon was relieved when they landed in New York, chemical weapons disposed of, global crisis averted, job done for insufficient pay. The usual. The week hadn’t done much to clear his head. Gaby had shot off in a separate car, saying something snarky about how all the pheromones in the air were giving her an allergic reaction, and Illya had chuckled as they headed towards Napoleon’s black Citroën.

Normally, Illya would wait on the tarmac as Napoleon and Gaby both left in different cars, then he would disappear and re-emerge only when there was another mission. Today, Napoleon eyed him curiously as they approached the car, and then raised his eyebrows as Illya got into the driver’s seat.

“First you steal my heart, then you steal my car-“

Illya rolled his eyes. “Get in.”

“Where are we going?” Napoleon let himself into the front passenger seat.

“I have safehouse in Greenwich Village.”

“Really? How terribly bohemian.”

Illya shrugged, as he turned the key in the ignition. “Your government might be a mess but your music and theatre, not bad.”

“I didn’t expect you to actually stay somewhere because you enjoy it there, somehow.”

“Unbelievable,” Illya said, though he smirked as he said it.

Greenwich Village was in a surprisingly convivial mood, and Napoleon looked around curiously as they headed into Illya’s third floor apartment. It was, perhaps unsurprisingly, fairly modest, with none of the lavish trappings that Napoleon was used to in his own properties. Some attempt had been made to outfit the flat with furnishings that were less sparse than what would have been purchased for a safehouse, and there was a chess set on one end of a cheap dining table wedged close to the kitchen counter.

Napoleon peered out of one of the narrow windows. Young men and women were wandering by, hand in hand, occasionally shouting something he couldn’t make out; a knot of them, dressed in motley colours. He studied them, tracking their movement down the street, and nearly flinched when Illya said dryly, “Demonstrating over war?”

“I’m not sure. Maybe they’re still celebrating the Civil Rights Act.”

Illya’s lip curled, even as he walked over to Napoleon’s side, shooting a glance at the street before closing the drapes. “Male omega, male alpha, still not so legal in your ‘free’ world.”

Napoleon grinned. “I like to live dangerously.” That got him a laugh, and Napoleon dared to get closer, watching carefully as Illya’s looked him over, amused, predatory, until Napoleon had Illya pressed against the wall with its peeling white paint, his mouth pressed against Illya’s neck, chasing his scent.

An arm curled around Napoleon’s waist, then Illya caught his ear with his teeth, tugging playfully, chuckling as Napoleon let out a soft groan of anticipatory pleasure. “How dangerously?”

“Oh, I think we could start with the theatre, or a nice dinner, jazz…” Napoleon trailed off, as Illya’s lips grazed down to his cheek. “But if I’m reading this wrongly, please don’t hit me on the nose. I like my nose.”

“I will think about it.”

“Let me convince you.”

“You can try,” Illya said, amused, though he allowed Napoleon to tip his chin down, and as Illya leaned over for a kiss, he flashed Napoleon a brief, sharp smile, a tiger’s smile, all promise and teeth.