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Saying Thank You

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Saying Thank You

Shivering, Napoleon staggered across the dock, being thankful that everybody’s attention was on the mad Russian driving circles in the water. He was too tired from swimming that far to do as much evasive maneuvering as he should.

A quick glance showed some cargo rigs lined up and ready for the shipping to start in the morning. He went to the one in front, planning to break in, but the cab door was open. Sitting for a moment, Napoleon caught his breath. Then he considered that an unlocked truck was probably due to the habits of workers doing a standard job, day after day, no need for security because the security was on the outside. And in a standard world where people felt safe and comfortable... Napoleon lowered the driver visor and sure enough, the keys dropped down. He grinned – habits were a wonderful thing. And he now had the beginnings of a plan for either diversion or rescue as needed. Keeping an eye on the small boat dashing to and fro in the water, with the larger ship following and using an enormous amount of firepower with very little effect, Napoleon started the engine and turned up the heat.

Wincing at the loud, bouncy music the radio was set to, Napoleon set out finding a station he approved of. The second station tugged at him, but not right for the moment, maybe another time. Ah... the third had Italian mood music, perfect.

He eyed the water. The mad Russian was still playing tag with the shipping guards. That was a lot of fire power for a supposedly simple shipping company, even a rich one. If they hadn’t known already, it would be obvious that the company was a front for illegal activities just from the artillery alone.

Come on, Peril. I’m out of the water already... time for you to make a break. Napoleon dried off his face and then noticed that the cloth had hidden a breakfast feast, complete with wine. He so loved Italians for their foresight. He might as well have a snack while waiting for the Russian to—.

Okay. That was unexpected.

Napoleon watched the small boat go up in flames, tilting slowly into the water as it lost buoyancy. He couldn’t see what happened to the blonde giant that had been steering it. Had he been hit or burned? Or gotten off right before? Though Napoleon had been watching for that and didn’t see any indication Kuryakin had dove off. Saving that scenario, next best would be simply thrown out of the boat without any additional wounds. But with the back of the boat exploding like that, the concussive blast would likely have knocked anybody on it unconscious.

Grimly, Napoleon put the truck in gear and maneuvered it into position while he continued to scan the waters. The people on the larger ship were doing the same, with their guns pointed towards the water, ready to fire. It was both good and bad that none of them could spot any emerging bodies.

Involuntarily, the odds kept calculating in his mind. He didn’t really want to know them right now, but it was habit and instinctive. He refused, however, to let odds rule his actions. Instead, he kept in mind where the boat had first gone down and how slowly a body might sink. At least he didn’t have to worry about tides or currents in the sheltered harbor.

In the back of his mind was also the thought that he didn’t have to. That the odds were such that... No. He wasn’t going to give those thoughts any legitimacy. They went in together, and they would go out together. He usually worked alone, but he wasn’t alone tonight, and wouldn’t be leaving alone either. Playing the odds was something he usually did well – and dealers didn’t always notice when he counted cards. He had no objections to stacking things in his favor when odds were down – that was just playing smart. Luck had its factor, but it helped to minimize the other factors for the better chance.

Now. Napoleon put the truck into gear and accelerated. Nobody had been watching the yard, with everybody convinced that the intruders were on the boat. That made it easy to put his plan into action without interference from the guards. They couldn’t realign their guns fast enough, and shortly they had other things to worry about.

Crazy, stubborn Russian. Napoleon kept his attention focused on the water as the ship went down. He had to have this angle exact in order to have the slightest chance of pulling it off. So much water. So many things that could have happened that he didn’t know about. If the KGB agent had been conscious when he went in the water and tried to swim initially... this wouldn’t work. If he’d been thrown off at an angle, this wouldn’t work. If—. It had to work.

Water was lapping at the truck door now. Napoleon rolled up the window and returned his focus to the water as they went under, peering through the highlighted depths, hoping the truck’s headlights would last long enough. He was looking for a blonde giant in black clothes, though the blonde would be brown in this water. So, a dark shape through murky water, with maybe a pale face if it could be seen.

Unhelpful images flashed through his mind, memories of the other in all his aspects. First sight, in a mirror at the check point – a distraction that Napoleon had fallen for. Then a face he had shot at, before the KGB agent had taken any action at all. As an agent, he had no regrets for the precipitous act. As a person... he was glad Kuryakin had ducked, though he still wondered how he could possibly have reacted faster than bullets. After they were out of the water, he’d have to ask.

Deeper. They were getting to the limits of both the truck’s battery and Napoleon’s ability to hold his breath on the way back up. Soon. He had to be there. Napoleon clenched the steering wheel tightly. More images. Fighting, wounding with words, arguing over fashion and being beaten for the first time. Teasing the stoic Red Peril became a new favorite hobby, almost more intriguing than the mission. Then this night. They both worked alone. But somehow... they worked together as well.

There. Right exactly where he should be. Sinking slowly down, no movement in the body at all – only the hair drifting slightly in the water. There could be no time for any relief or worry now, there could be only action at this point. The lights had to last just a moment more. Napoleon had to hold his breath just that far.

Contact. Wrap his arms around the body, grab for a towing position. No time to try and evaluate for anything else. Was he carrying a body to the surface, or a man? A man. It had to be a man. ”Loving your work, Cowboy.” It was Napoleon’s mistake that had gotten them here. It had to be a man.

Up. How much further up? ”Is not the Russian way!” And yet, he had done as Napoleon asked, to the point of losing a precious keepsake. Honestly, who wore a precious keepsake on a mission? The rare things Napoleon had of value were nowhere near his person. He refused to think of what he had in his arms now.

Up. Was that surface or illusion above? His lungs were burning, his arms dragging down with the weight they held. Napoleon refused to let go, pushing further and further up. ”Is this what you call sleeping on it?” The Russian had shown no signs of surprise when Napoleon had walked up. None at all.

Surface. Napoleon exhaled the stale air and heaved in a great lungful of fresh. There was no action from the other. He couldn’t even tell pulse, his own body was so cold at this point. Napoleon held them still for a long few moments, using the time to check to see if their emergence was noticed, and also to monitor any response from the person he held.

Nothing. From either. The surface was too scattered and frantic with the dramatic action of truck on ship and busy rescuing those guards still thrashing around. They hadn’t noticed the relatively quiet emergence of Napoleon and his prize, especially as Napoleon had gambled on an angle going up. Unfortunately, though, there was also no movement within his grasp. No struggling, no breathing. Nothing.

Switching grips, Napoleon maneuvered until they were face to face. The blonde hair was plastered flat, the blue eyes were hidden behind closed lids. There was no glaring, no tensing to fight, no little glint of humor, no readiness to guard Napoleon’s back. Napoleon brought them together until he could put his lips over Illya’s and breathed air into lungs that weren’t working.

Then he kicked out sideways and swam quietly towards an unused dock. The pilings were closer, but he wouldn’t be able to get Illya out that way – the water-logged giant Russian was too much mass for him to haul straight up. Every few strokes, he breathed for his partner again. He worked alone, and he was used to the fickle fortunes of war, but he wouldn’t give up until he had to. He wouldn’t believe anything but hope until there was nothing left. He breathed for Illya and kept swimming.

Half-way there, the body he was holding gave a sudden jerk and then there was coughing. Loud coughing.

“Quiet!” Napoleon hissed, relieved and worried both. He shifted grips again so Illya wouldn’t take him down if he tried to grab or lash out. “Follow me.” He counted on the combination of orders to get through to a trained hind-brain reflex, even if thinking wasn’t all the way there yet. It worked, as Illya turned sideways to cough one last time, then concentrated on breathing and swimming. Not doing all that well at either, but it was better than the scary nothing of before.

Now with a semi-conscious Russian, Napoleon changed his direction again for the pilings. Even half-drowned, he was sure that Kuryakin could make it up. The man was super-agent, after all. Able to chase after and catch speeding cars and scale walls barehanded after dodging bullets he shouldn’t have known were coming. Surely he could climb one little dock piling.

Up, and over, and dashing to a temporary safety. With every step, the KGB agent was looking more alert, though he stayed close on Napoleon’s heels and didn’t speak. Napoleon for his part kept a close eye on Illya and didn’t go faster than he could stagger.

The shipping yard was lit up like Christmas. Running figures, spotlights, flashing red lights, alarms and shouting everywhere. While the agents had been swimming, the guards had gone through the trucking rigs, tracing back from Napoleon’s stolen one. Which was just perfect as they were unlikely to check again for awhile. Napoleon quickly checked them himself, then randomly chose the fourth back. The cargo flaps were lose already, probably in preparation for loading in the morning. He pulled a corner up and gestured Illya inside, following him in and lowering the flap again until they were sitting in the dark.

Inside, there were a few moments of quiet while they both caught their breaths. Breathing could be loud when there was silence, but not when there were alarms belting out everywhere outside.

Napoleon’s eyes started adjusting to the near-dark. The canvas that comprised the roof and sides of the van was leak-proof and fairly light proof too, but there was some light leaked in at the flap and on the edges. Weighing the options and deciding there was little risk and more benefit, he pulled his knife out of his thigh sheath and stood up and cut a few slits in the top. This gave them more light inside, with little risk of being seen from the outside.

“We need... to go...” Illya stuttered out, his arms wrapping around himself. A gesture more felt than seen, an outline of a body, but one thankfully moving. He started coughing again, weakly.

“In a minute,” Napoleon whispered. “Let them go by us first until there’s a path.” If they tried going out immediately, they’d be caught for certain.

For the moment, there was something else they needed to take care of. “Are you hurt?”

The Russian made a baffled noise of inquiry. Napoleon couldn’t help thinking it sounded rather adorable. “Were you shot? Wounded?”

Illya shook his head, then kept shaking it. “Don’t know, don’t remember. What happened?”

“They got the engine and it blew up, taking you down with the boat.” Napoleon kept it succinct, while he reached out to divest Illya of some of his clothes. It wasn’t all that unusual for agents or soldiers not to notice little things like bullets or other wounds when there was so much else to concentrate on. Blocking pain was habit for them during action. He himself had, more than once, not realized he’d been hit until later. With the amount of gunfire aimed at the small boat, it would be a miracle if the other agent hadn’t been struck at all, even though there were no immediate signs of it.

His hands stuck on Illya’s jacket, and impatiently Napoleon stripped his gloves off. Deciding he needed the extra mobility, he stripped his own jacket off as well, along with the gun harness. There was an absence of a familiar weight at his back, and he mourned the loss of his tools in the escape. The electronics in particular had been expensive, and not always on the CIA budget, but his lock pick tools... those were going to be very hard to replace. He took a quick inventory of what he had left and sighed quietly. He would have to visit one of his safe-houses when this was over. Too much had disappeared or would be useless now with the soaking and he’d have to pull from his back-ups. His gun was waterlogged, but once it dried, it should be okay. He pulled out the magazine and laid the pieces on the floor to dry best they could in the short time they’d be there. With that thought in mind, he also took out his knife and laid it down next to the gun.

When he was free of gloves and jacket, he reached again for Illya. The Russian had been working on his own jacket, but hadn’t gotten far, his movements weak and uncoordinated. Now that they were at rest, the great strength that had kept the agent moving was petering out, even if his alertness level was rising rapidly.

The jacket was heavier than it should be, and Napoleon ran a hand over it. It felt like the other agent kept more of his tools in pockets inside his jacket rather than on a belt harness like Napoleon normally did. That explained why the jacket was so bulky and shapeless when on him – it was practicality rather than an avoidance of fashion.

Without the jacket, Illya moved a little easier. He took off his own gun harness and put it on the other side from where Napoleon had laid his, stripping the magazine similarly. He reached for his waist and then made a sound.

“What?” Napoleon asked. It hadn’t sounded like pain, but one couldn’t always tell.

“Lost my other gun,” Illya muttered, then coughed again. After a moment, he reached down his leg and pulled his own knife out, laying it beside the gun.

They were both field agents, but it still made Napoleon grin to think of how equally equipped they both were. They had their specialties, and the basics, and there they were. Opposites, yet matching.

With another moment’s pause, Illya reached for the side of the truck and then slowly leaned against it, sitting with his legs tucked sideways under him, as if it was too much trouble to straighten out.

That made Napoleon worry all over again about him, and he remembered the original point to this. He moved closer, kneeling next to Illya and reached for the bottom of Illya’s turtleneck.

Moving faster than he ought, Illya’s hands caught Napoleon’s, and he opened his eyes and glared. The glare wasn’t quite as effective in the low light as it was in the day, but then, Napoleon had never paid it much mind anyhow.

“Can’t see through that black sweater of yours. Need to check if you’ve been hurt.”

Illya acquiesced with a capitulating sigh, which concerned Napoleon more than the rest of it. Though the other agent should know just as well as he did that it was only practical.

Practical... with a bit of fun. The wet turtleneck clinging to wet body was particularly tricky to get off. It was a wonderful, legitimate reason to have his hands close in, running over the Russian’s muscled torso, around the waist where he pulled the sweater from the pants, front and back.

Napoleon paused as his exploring hands hit the shape of a kit tucked at the back of Illya’s waist. He’d thought most of Illya’s tools were in his jacket – it had been heavy enough when he was taking it off. He figured out where the band tied in and unhooked it. It was a familiar sort of... wait a second.

“These are my tools!” Napoleon exclaimed in delight as he unwrapped the pouch and checked to make sure.

There was another cough from beside him. “They looked... Did not look easily replaceable. Not standard issue.” A pause. “Lost the rest, sorry.”

They weren’t standard issue at all, and a good set of lock picks took years to craft and lots of knowing the right people to obtain them. He could kiss the Russian for packing them up and keeping them safe instead of just tossing them to one side as they ran.

Illya coughed again and that hurriedly recalled Napoleon to his original task. Again. He wasn’t used to having partners. He put the kit next to his gun and then went back to working on Illya’s turtleneck. The wet fabric clung like a second skin. And what really wonderful skin it was, lean and tight, muscles layered over bone without too much extra.

“Thought you’d been hit.” Illya’s voice was low and deep as his hands worked the edge of the sweater next to Napoleon’s, their movements crossing along the way.

“Me?” Napoleon was slightly distracted with the slide of his fingers over Illya’s body, and their fingers intertwining periodically. He had to keep reminding himself what the actual goal was – to get the sweater off Illya without getting himself killed by an angry Russian.

“I did not see, but gunfire raked the seat and you were gone.”

Pausing his hands, Napoleon’s eyebrows went up. Illya hadn’t been running in circles to buy him time? Then what had that been about? But shot didn’t always mean dead – Illya likely had been calculating for extra time if Napoleon had been wounded and slow, keeping the chase going that much longer. And depending on where Illya thought he’d gone into the water, the swim could have been further. No wonder Illya had kept circling for so long. “No, I fell off at the turn after the third gate. No bullets.”

“Oh.” Illya’s voice paused and Napoleon could picture... no, he couldn’t picture what might be on Illya’s face. If only there was a bit more light! “Oh. That... that is good.” There was real relief in his voice.

A bit more than simply mission-continuance relief at that. Napoleon wondered, though he couldn’t say the Russian hadn’t grown on him too in the short time they’d been working together. He resumed moving his hands upward and was finally able to tug the turtleneck over Illya’s head, though for a moment it seemed as if the folds of wet fuzzy black cloth were going to asphyxiate him again. Well, if it did, Napoleon could always give him rescue breathing again.

Illya was coughing again after the sweater finally came off, though he tried to keep them quiet and shallow. It was unfortunate that they weren’t yet safe where he could just get it out of his system. A nice hot cup of coffee would also do the trick. Or tea as they had mostly here in Europe. God, Napoleon missed his coffee sometimes when he wasn’t in places that had imported it for Americans.

Napoleon sat back on his heels and looked at Illya, but other than now a pale blur of a torso where before there had only been a bare outline of a body, there wasn’t any way to tell if Illya had been hurt. There just wasn’t enough light to see, not really. Leaning forward again, Napoleon reached out and ran his hands over Illya’s torso, feeling up and down, checking. Illya’s coughing stopped abruptly as he stilled his breath and almost all movement at the touch.

“Checking for bullets,” Napoleon murmured, reassuring even as his hands slipped up and down and over, and stroked over the collarbone...

Okay. That wasn’t a checking movement. Napoleon pulled his hands back to himself before they got him shot by an irate KGB agent. Though Illya’s gun was as waterlogged as his own right now. The Russian didn’t need guns, though, with his wrestling skills. For a wistful moment, Napoleon remembered the strong body holding him close, arms wrapped tightly around him. Okay, it was in a neck lock and he’d been in danger of having his spine snapped at the time, but try telling that to his raging libido at the moment.

That was the problem with pauses in missions – way too much adrenalin and nowhere for it to go. Not usually an issue when he was by himself, but give him an attractive partner and his hands running over said attractive partner, and...

“Sorry, there’s just not enough light,” Napoleon apologized.

“Somehow, I think that is not your problem,” Illya muttered. Then he shook his head. “Is okay. Go ahead. Can’t feel.”

The other agent probably knew as well as he did the problems of being wounded and not knowing it. Between the shock of the explosion, the drowning, and the chill and cough, Illya was in no shape to self-diagnose anything right now.

With a firm command to his libido, Napoleon reached out again, this time taking a grip on himself and mentally stepping back a few feet before he touched again.

This time, he managed to focus better, reminding himself that if he didn’t find out where the Russian was hit, he would bleed out and then all his work at rescuing him from drowning would be moot.

Starting with the front, Napoleon placed one hand on Illya’s left shoulder and then slowly ran the edge of his other palm down Illya’s body in a firm steady stroke, making sure there were no gaps between Illya and himself. He could feel every definition of Illya’s body, from the slight swell over his pectoral to the raised pebbly nipple down over the ribs... he paused at one point, feeling a distinct roughness of the skin.

“Scar,” Illya said quietly, his breathing sounding better, if still not quite steady yet.

It didn’t feel fresh. With a nod, Napoleon continued, lighting his pressure as he got to under the ribcage so not to hurt the organs underneath. Though with as much muscle as Illya had, there was a good chance a bullet would just bounce off instead. At the waistline, he stopped, having to fight the temptation to go a little deeper...

Clearing his throat, he brought his hand back up again and placed it another hands width over, directly under Illya’s own throat. He could feel Illya swallow. Then Napoleon repeated the movement, stopping a couple of times more to check additional rough spots, but they were just more scars. Scars... and a smattering of wet chest hair. There had been some on the side as well, but the middle was a little denser and there was a trail of it that went straight down... oh, those abdomen muscles were well, well defined indeed.

Illya flinched when Napoleon reached the belly button and below, and Napoleon stopped and explored with fingers. He hadn’t felt anything himself, but he probed all the same, spreading his fingers out and feeling with the tips... Illya flinched again, this time with a slight yipping noise added in, then he brought his hand up and grasped Napoleon’s firmly, stopping the exploration.

After a moment, Illya let go of Napoleon’s hand. “No wound, check other side,” Illya muttered, sounding slightly strangled.

Napoleon paused, then had to choke back a laugh – it seemed his partner was ticklish. That was unexpected, and rather funny. He would have to exploit it at a later point.

Then a third time for the right side... Napoleon got all the way down this time with no interruptions, being more used to the feel of the scars and not encountering anything else.

He frowned, then ran a quick second check, this time with the pads of his fingers going from side to side in a sweep across Illya’s body.

Other than a sucked-in gasp when Napoleon started the second check, Illya didn’t move. He wasn’t coughing anymore, though his breathing was coming deep and harsh.

“Huh,” Napoleon finally said. “No wounds on the front. Hold a moment and I’ll get the back.” Considering the angle of gunfire, back was more likely at that. He probably should have checked there first.

Illya didn’t say anything, and Napoleon took that as basic permission. He moved around until he was behind him. Then Illya startled Napoleon by moving. Napoleon held still until he knew what the Russian was doing. But the other agent was merely shifted so he wasn’t leaning against the side of the truck anymore, and instead settled into a cross-legged sitting pose. He was definitely moving easier, and his breathing sounded better too. That raised Napoleon’s hopes that maybe there was an extra quotient of luck out there and they’d gotten through it unscathed.

He still had to check. Napoleon put his hands under each of Illya’s armpits, the other man raising his arms slightly for him as he did so. Then leaving his left hand where it was, Napoleon ran his right hand down Illya’s side, palm flat and fingers curving around to mold to the Russian’s body.

Illya made a strangled sound again, but didn’t move.

Napoleon raised an eyebrow and smirked, knowing he couldn’t be seen. That wasn’t like the other sound before. This sound was a bit more familiar to him. Well, Napoleon would be the same if somebody was running their hands all over him. It was interesting, though, that a KGB agent would be susceptible. Guess he was human after all.

Before he could get lost in speculation, Napoleon moved on to the left side. Then in across the back in another searching pattern.

There were more scars on Illya’s back. He couldn’t tell what they were from feel alone, but some were puckered, some were edged and straight, and then there was some that were barely felt but were long and fairly centered in the middle. Napoleon dearly wanted to see them in the light, wondering what the stories were behind them. Not that the light alone would get him the stories.

Scars... but no fresh wounds. And the fact that he was feeling the scars meant that he would have felt anything else as well.


He absently kept running his hands over Illya’s back as he thought about the rest. Illya had been moving too well to have a leg injury. Seated as he was in the boat, legs wouldn’t have been the first line of target anyhow. Head wounds... he would have noticed a head wound when they were climbing up the pilings. Their route had been extremely well lit, and Napoleon had been keeping a close eye on his shaky partner as he made his way up.

Somehow, Illya had got out of that maelstrom of gunfire and explosion intact. One lucky bastard. Other than being drowned, but he wasn’t any more so that didn’t count. Napoleon cleared his throat. “No wounds. Looks like you just got knocked out from the blast.” He’d have to watch for concussion symptoms, though the other agent seemed to be fairly alert now.

There was a long pause and Napoleon wondered if Illya had heard him.

Then Illya reached up so his hand rested on top of one of Napoleon’s that was resting on his shoulder. He covered it for a long moment, still silent. “Thank you,” he finally said, quietly, his voice gruff but sincere. “For rescuing me. Thank you.”

The hand that was trapped was tingling, the blood running through it. Illya’s large hand completely covered his. With a blush that Napoleon knew couldn’t be seen, he waved his free hand in the air, dismissing any praise. “No problem, Peril. Next time I’m drowning, you can pull me out. Deal?”

The smile was in Illya’s voice. “Deal, Cowboy.”

They sat there together for a moment quietly. Illya didn’t move and Napoleon didn’t rescue his hand, letting it stay trapped.

As they sat there, the sounds outside made their way in. It was still chaos outside, apparently. With sirens and shouts, though there was no more gunfire at least. It all sounded fairly remote, moving outward towards the walls, and overlooking the vans in their midst.

“We have to get back,” Illya said after awhile.

“I know,” Napoleon said grimly. He’d been trying not to think too much about it.

“Our covers... They were never happy with architect for me. They might have gotten good look at us, enough for description.”

“I know,” Napoleon said again. “And there I was yesterday, bragging to her about how good a thief I was. That’s going to bite me on the ass, big time.” The alarm was a stupid, stupid mistake.

“Am sorry about fight, now.” Illya sighed.

Napoleon snorted. “What was that all about? Honestly – three pampered rich boys and you had nothing better to do than beat them up?”

A shrug had Illya’s body moving deliciously up and down – he could feel it in his hand that was still under Illya’s, and he was leaning close enough to get a residual feel out of the movement. He wished he was plastered more closely over Illya’s back... but he’d take what he could get for now.

There was a short pause before Illya answered. “They were... bullies. Using influence and numbers to intimidate. Attitude better than others. Above all, I despise bullies.” Another pause. “But truly did have soft bones. Didn’t think arm would break.”

In spite of himself, Napoleon laughed. He didn’t really like bullies either, and all things considered, Illya hadn’t hurt them that badly. For a man supposedly with psychotic episodes, the Russian controlled himself quite well. Anger issues, yes – but psychotic? Of course, Napoleon knew what was written on his own evaluation sheet and considered most of it crap with only slivers of truth, so who knew what was truly inside Illya’s skin. It made Napoleon itch to try and figure it out. A mystery, wrapped within beauty and strength. Not perfection – perfection would be boring – but a very real being to explore. Too bad they didn’t have a lot of time. From long practice, Napoleon knew his partner would not be an easy safe to crack. Alarms weren’t even the start of the defenses around the Russian, and Napoleon wasn’t sure what tools would be the best to use.

“How long must we wait?” Illya’s hand tightened briefly upon his own.

Not moving was the hardest part of a mission sometimes. Now that they were sure Illya was okay, they had to plan the getting out. Napoleon tried to check his watch, and then realized it was on the wrist under Illya’s hand. He tried craning his head, but couldn’t see it. Finally, he pulled his hand out from under Illya’s, carefully ignoring the slight noise the other agent made as he did so.

His watch was one he’d modified himself. He tended to buy the fancy ones that would go well with his suits, then alter them in little ways most people wouldn’t notice. Like putting a touch of radium on the hands and twelve mark so he could see it in the dark. His army-issued watch and compass in the war had been invaluable in night raids and he didn’t mind carrying a good idea over. The watch was also completely sealed for the occasional dunking and was still working. If he was right about their timing and the time it would take the guards to clear the area... “Ten minutes.”

Illya twisted around to look, his hand reaching out to hold Napoleon’s wrist as he studied the watch. Then he grunted. “Tritium is safer. Switch to that next time.”

Napoleon blinked. “How can you even tell...?”

He felt more than saw Illya’s smile. “You were army. Tritium is newer.” He let go of Napoleon’s wrist. “We could go south side and make our way back.”

Napoleon could sympathize with wanting to leave now. But even if they went out the other end, they would still have to contend with the guards, and it would be more running around for nothing. It would take them the whole ten minutes just to make their way out there and back. Instead of pointing out something that the other agent knew well, he said instead, “We should have enough time. The Vinciguerras live a ways away, and the security here will need to contact them, and then they will have to come and review before they start after us, if they do connect us with it.”

They should have enough time, but still, it was going to be tight. There were many factors involved and minutes counted. Given what they’d already seen of the response and sheer numbers of guards, though, there was no way they could make it out at the moment – not without a lot of luck, and they’d already used a lot of that tonight.

He couldn’t help his eyes tracking along Illya’s pale body, with Illya now in front of him again. Illya was looking and sounding much better than he had, though, they were only a short time out of the water. Involuntarily, he reached out to draw a hand gently down Illya’s arm. He hadn’t checked the arms for wounds. “You should rest.”

Then he worried that he’d overstepped – that adrenaline again – and he moved backwards, putting some distance between them. He bumped up against the side of the truck, and leaned back against it with a sigh. He hadn’t drowned, but he’d swam half the length of the port once, then again while hauling Illya up. He wasn’t, though, very tired. Not right now. The adrenaline had him hyped up and almost vibrating, chafing under the wait. He just couldn’t risk himself so close to Illya anymore. Not without the excuse of checking for wounds.

Illya turned to face him, then crawled to the flap and looked outside. His hands opened and clenched while Napoleon watched the outline of his body. Napoleon wondered if he would leave anyhow, despite logic and the abuse his drowned partner had just been through. Waiting was the hardest part on any mission.

The Russian was thinking so loudly that Napoleon could almost hear him. Too bad it was in a foreign language.

“Possibly,” Illya finally said, answering the statement Napoleon had made some time back. Then he moved around in the truck and stretched out, reclining on his side with his head on Napoleon’s lap, face towards his body.

Napoleon froze. Since they’d gotten in the truck, his fight or flight adrenaline had been focused instead on Illya, taking the third option of fight, flight, or fuck. He’d been at half-mast for some time what with his wandering hands and thoughts, and now Illya’s head was right on the center of his lap. There was no way he hadn’t felt the way Napoleon’s jemson had jumped when he’d rested on it, nor how hard he was now.

Cautiously, Napoleon looked to where the knife was lying. It was within arm’s reach from Illya’s current resting spot. He had better be very careful here.

But time went by and there was no reaction from Illya, just the weight of his head and a stillness that was a practiced rest rather than a real rest. If Illya was ignoring it, then perhaps it was okay. Napoleon breathed again and relaxed. With his relaxation, Illya also eased.

Hmmm. That was interesting. And there had been those sounds from earlier...

Daringly, Napoleon brought his hand over to touch Illya’s hair. If asked, he could say there was seaweed in it.

Illya didn’t ask. Just tilted his head in a manner that encouraged more. So Napoleon did, stroking through the slowly drying strands of smooth hair.

He was concentrating so hard on controlling his physical reactions to having Illya on his lap and being allowed to play with his hair, that Napoleon missed the first light strokes on his hips. It wasn’t until his sweater was lifted and hands went under to bare skin that he realized he wasn’t the only player in action.

“Ah,” Napoleon breathed in, holding other noises as large hands stroked him. One settled over his right hipbone, lightly holding him, while the other wandered up his abdomen, fingers spread to maximize touch. Delightful, lovely touch, that was sending currents through his whole body. As calloused fingertips drifted over his nipples, he sucked in a breath, and let his head tilt against the wall. A light pinch had him squirming, but the hand on his hip and weight upon his lap held him still.

Maybe he wasn’t the only one with problems with pauses during missions.

And while Napoleon had been running his hands over Illya... Illya was the one who had been being caressed that whole time. Perhaps... maybe they were on the same page here.

He glanced down to try and meet his partner’s gaze, but Illya wasn’t looking up at him. Instead, his attention was focused more immediately... The hand that had been wandering came back down as Illya shifted his head to make room.

“Oh.” Napoleon thought maybe he should stop this, maybe he should ask, but there was a large hand cupping him through his pants and it was hard to concentrate on anything else. All the physical reactions he’d been denying himself while he thought it was one-sided were now coming to the fore and he was desperate for the touch. Even outside his pants, it felt good. Very, very good.

Illya made a noise of contentment and satisfaction, the fingers of the hand on Napoleon’s hip stroking in time with the movements he made with his other. A gentle kneading that was going to drive him crazy if the Russian kept that up. Gentle was less than what he wanted right now, and yet it was so much more than he’d thought he could get.

“Peril?” Napoleon was asking before he knew he was going to. The nickname was automatic, falling from his lips with a soft affection and none of the underlying barbs he usually gave to it. Napoleon wondered when that might have happened. Probably underwater, while he was thinking of other things.

“Words are inadequate for ‘thank you’,” Illya said, his attention and eyes finally turning up. “This is better.” He unbuttoned Napoleon’s slacks and slid the zipper down.

Napoleon traced the edges of Illya’s cheekbones, lightly running his finger over his ear ridge, then going over to touch lightly on the scar before down to brush lightly over his lips, then down to the jawbone. It was delightful to be allowed to do this touching, and for more than just checking for wounds. “Is this the Russian way?” Teasing was automatic for him, and he smiled at the memory.

There was a general pause in all action, Illya’s movements stilling even as he finally had Napoleon in hand. His body shifted modes for a moment and Napoleon could see the KGB agent again, only then realizing that aspect had been missing for awhile. Then Illya relaxed with a snort. “No. If Soviet Union saw this, there would be bullets. This is Cowboy special.” He said the last with an honest to god actual grin, easy and given freely.

Napoleon swallowed, more affected by that grin than he liked to admit. Not to mention the thrill that went through him at ‘Cowboy Special’. “Well, I’m honored.”

“You should be. No more talking,” Illya returned his attention downward, and rolled over for a better angle. “Mouth has better things to do.”

There wasn’t really any arguing with that. Napoleon shut his eyes and tilted his head back as Illya turned words to action, licking at the bare head while his hand held the shaft. Napoleon was used to having to be quiet in certain situations, but there was something about this that wanted more noise. Instead, he moved his hand to the back of Illya’s head, tangling his fingers in the wet hair. His other hand, he rested on top of the one Illya had on his hip.

Illya was a tease. He was also very, very good. Alternating his licking with periodic forays to take the head into his mouth, sucking with what was initially too much force but then quickly adjusting to Napoleon’s favorite with god knew what cues Napoleon was giving him. The attention swelled him rapidly to full hardness, but the large Russian hand was able to cover the rest of him easily. An advantage of male partners that Napoleon didn’t have often, and he savored the sensation.

All the adrenaline had pushed his senses into overload now, with the third option in play, heightening his awareness of every move, every tug, every lick. The hand a confident grip easy around him. The tongue, wet and slightly rough. The slight graze of teeth periodically before the tongue reclaimed position. It was taking all his will power to hold still. The position he was in wasn’t the best for thrusting and that was probably for the best – he didn’t want to choke his partner. It was the perfect position for pure delight, with everything focused on him. Sometimes Illya would swallow, and Napoleon could feel himself leaking all the more and rapidly spiraling high.

Not taking much action himself was having an adverse effect on his control over his voice. It didn’t take too much before Napoleon had to reclaim the hand not in Illya’s hair and use it to bite on a finger to keep his sounds muffled. Even with guards out everywhere, it was impossible to keep quiet. Breathing was loud, licks got moans, swallows got gasps and cries, teeth got hisses that were near pleas for more. At least biting down hid those. It was good they hadn’t shut off the sirens outside yet.

Illya used the opportunity to move his own hand from hip to Napoleon’s thigh, bracing himself more securely so he could raise himself up. His other hand left its comfortable warm spot that Napoleon regretted before he figured out what the other was doing.

Then there was sliding. Delicious, wonderful, sensuous sliding with a little more going deeper each time Illya went down. Napoleon spared a brief thought to wonder if this was okay on Illya’s throat after all the coughing, but the thought quickly disappeared in the sensation. “Ah!” The sound slipped out before he could bite it off. But how was anybody supposed to think with sliding going on? Warm, wet, and even tight at the deeper ends. Things his body wanted more of the more he got it.

It was hard not tighten his grip on Illya’s hair and just push him down, take control of the rhythm. But control would be nothing more than a lie, and there was a thrill in having somebody else set the pace, the tempo, the things he wouldn’t have done, the things he couldn’t do to himself. The pleasure freely given – and by Illya of all people...

Napoleon’s eyes were closed as he came closer and closer to the edge, waiting for that moment that would take him over...

There was a pop of pressure as Illya pulled off, and then they were back to licking again. Napoleon gasped around his finger, a small muted mewling sound of disappointment that was quickly turned into a moan for the continuation of other pleasures. The dizzying heights were one thing, but the lower altitude had so much additional to offer. This round of licking was accompanied with one of the hands exploring more – tracing circles at the base, gently rolling the skin of his balls, reaching further back as well, stroking that part just behind, and generally driving him wild. His skin was so sensitive right now that every little movement had him bucking for more.

With a swallow, he pulled his knuckle out of his mouth and gulped down air. Control was almost nowhere to be found anymore. “Peril,” he intoned the nickname with shades of everything but the warning the word normally was. “Illya...”

“Shhhh...” The gentling sound echoed up as the breath covered his sensitive skin.

Napoleon had to do something. He settled for stroking Illya’s hair, and along his back. Concentrating on that to take himself one step away from exploding. Beneath him, he felt Illya arching into the touch, and he felt a rumbling sound on his skin.

Another breath, then there was an absence of mouth, letting cooler air tickle over his skin. There was sound of licking, though not on him, then Illya’s large, calloused hand took over, going up and down the whole way... rubbing at his balls at the bottom of the movement, almost pulling off at the top, before repeating again. The callouses added an extra dimension to the sensations, and the grip only needed a couple of minor adjustments for the right combination of pulling and sliding, large hand sure and confident. Not his own hand, but a hand adept at giving him pleasure. Those same cues he wasn’t sure he was giving directed the speed as well, settling on a madding rhythm that was just slightly slower than he wanted.

With the hand in play, Illya’s mouth moved to Napoleon’s balls, sucking the skin gently in and releasing it, over and over again. Then he licked up the direct middle, along the seam there. Rather quickly, Napoleon had to bring his hand up again, biting down hard to hold in what would have been a near scream. No screaming. Not with guards all around them. Some thank you – Illya was going to kill him instead. A strangled sound that wasn’t quite a scream still made it through his hand.

There was another low hum of pleasure below that was felt more than heard, and then the tongue made its way back up again, hand switching as they went.

Napoleon tasted blood on his finger and swallowed the dark iron taste. If they weren’t in the back of a truck in the middle of an escape, he would throw the other agent over at this point and show him he could do just as good. But for now... for now he hung on and reveled in every sensation – a hedonistic pleasure whore, just as the Western systems were supposed to be. If he had the name, he might as well take full advantage, and Illya seemed determined to give him everything.

The head went in Illya’s mouth again, and this time there was exploration with the tongue, not just the basic movements. There were also sound vibrations, though Napoleon had no clue what, if anything, was being said. It just all travelled up from root to spine and overwhelmed the thinking part of the brain completely.

This time, when Illya swallowed, it was the end.

Slumping over Illya, his arms in a loose grasp around him, it took Napoleon a little while to come back to coherent thought again.

When he finally straightened up, he looked down to meet bright eyes glinting up at him. Illya had rolled over after swallowing, one hand still wrapped gently around Napoleon’s now limp and smaller penis, keeping it warm without more stimulation.

“Sorry about that,” Napoleon managed a wry grin. “I meant to warn you...”

Illya blinked, his smile fading as he parsed the words. Then the bright look returned as he quietly laughed. “No. Was good. Old remedy for sore throats.”

Napoleon snorted softly, his hands stroking down Illya’s chest. His thoughts turned to next steps, his fingers reveling in the expanse of skin and imagining how much he could explore. “Your turn now?”

Illya shook his head, then reluctantly let go of Napoleon, rolling off him. “No more time. We have to go.”

Oh, that was right. Escape.

“Beside. That was your thank you.” Illya grinned wickedly. “Cowboy special.”

That grin truly had him melting. He hadn’t known it could exist inside the stoic KGB agent, though there had been the hints with the wry mocking and glints of humor. Definitely something to be explored more later on.

“If you insist.” As he set himself to rights, Napoleon glanced out at the quieter compound. It truly was time to go. “For now.” There would have to be some point in the future where Napoleon could return the favor, and he definitely looked forward to it. For now... back to the mission.


... ... ...

End Chapter One