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A Damn Fine Job

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“Has he been identified?”

“Yes sir; Napoleon Solo.”

A pause, but it is subtle and quick because there is no time. “Has he been disposed of?” he asks, voice controlled in its interest, constantly reminding himself to keep up the odd accent, sit the proper way, act as if the different glasses resting on his nose were completely natural.

The answer is no, and he doesn’t allow himself to feel relief, because there is no time.

***

He batters the guard away ruthlessly, and he isn’t afraid or nervous or worried about his cover being broken because there is no time.

“What am I going to do with you, Mr Solo?” instead he asks, staring down at the other man, caressing with the swagger stick.

“Kill him,” says the THRUSH agent impatiently.

“Of course,” he responds instantly, forcing a hint of amused anticipation in his voice, “but slowly. My way.”

“Just,” grins Marshall Gurnius, “like his father.”

He would be sickened, but there is no time.

***

“Bite. Hard.”

Napoleon’s head falls to his shoulder, and the girl is yelling at him. “You killed him!”

He ignores her accusations, commanding that she scream, which she is only too willing to do. He is hurried and impatient, and he cannot explain to her what’s going on, because there is no time, but he feels sorry for her.

His last words to her before he runs out the room are, “And hurry.”

***

“Are you proud of yourself?” Napoleon asks, eyebrows quirked reproachfully. “You should be. You did a damn fine job.”

He glances in return at Napoleon, who is leaning elegantly in the doorway to the living room, a subtle raise of his own eyebrows, a wry twist of his mouth, conveying exactly everything and nothing about his own views on the matter. He turns back to the small table acting as bar in Napoleon’s flat and finishes pouring the other man a brandy.

He wanders across the room to the couch and sets the glass down on the coffee table. Napoleon leaves his position in the threshold, having just come from the bathroom and a shower, and carefully seats himself on the couch.

“A damn fine job,” Napoleon repeats, leaning forward to pick up the glass and swirl the liquid inside for a moment, glancing at his partner over the prop while Illya continues his casual wander about the room. He had not poured himself a drink. “You certainly had Miss Cook fooled.” He takes a delicate sip of the alcohol before setting the glass back on the table and settling back into the upholstery, attempting to ease tensed and aching muscles. “You almost managed to fool me in fact.”

“Surely not,” Illya replies lightly, reminding himself to use his own accent (is the British overlay more pronounced today or his native Russian?), remain in his own posture, and not to rub at the itchy skin where his ‘scar’ had been. It has been a few weeks since he’s been in Napoleon’s apartment; he’s taking a few moments to reacquaint himself and see what has changed, what new trinkets the other man has acquired, what old ones thrown out.

There is time now.

“Oh yes,” Napoleon’s voice is merciless and cool, “I was beginning to wonder how much you were enjoying the role.”

Illya turns to give his friend a look but does not answer verbally.

Napoleon waits until his partner returns his gaze to the new framed photograph on the wall before picking up the brandy again. “Careful not to drink too much of that at once,” Illya says, and it’s definitely more so the Russian tinge than the British today, “it probably doesn’t mix well with the medication you were given.”

“You’re assuming I took the medication,” Napoleon responds dryly but sets the glass down again after another small sip. He lifts himself from the sofa, again with careful deliberation—it’s not so much that anything hurts as he’s feeling rather delicate, as if the skeleton holding his body together is unusually fragile at the moment—and crosses the room to join his partner on the far side of the room.

“You should take the medication,” Illya says quietly once Napoleon has stopped moving, just behind the Russian’s right shoulder, looking with him at the photograph of a sailing ship on the ocean.

“Do as you say, not as you do?” Napoleon asks him innocently and watches Illya’s shoulders hunch, whether in his usual broodiness or his unexpected sense of humour even the American isn’t sure. “Later. I’ll take it later.”

“Of course you will.” There is the barest hint of bitterness in Illya’s tone.

Napoleon rests a hand on his partner’s shoulder, gently but firmly turning the smaller man around. Illya meets his glance, but only for a moment before looking over Napoleon’s shoulder. Napoleon refrains from sighing deeply.

“Damn fine job,” he says again with emphasis. “We finished the mission rather well, I thought.”

Illya’s glance slides back to his face for a moment, a glimpse of wry, acerbic disbelief, before he looks away again. Napoleon refrains from rolling his eyes. “We did what we set out to do at least. It’s not like I haven’t got beat up before.”

Now Illya’s silence becomes incredulous, and he doesn’t even bother to meet his friend’s eyes. Napoleon moves his hand from Illya’s shoulder to his cheek, turning his face toward him.

“While the brooding is like you,” he says quietly, “the guilt isn’t.”

Illya’s blue (green today?) eyes momentarily harden, darkening, and then he is slipping with irritating ease out of Napoleon’s grasp and striding over to the alcohol. “Yes, but trying to kill you isn’t like me either,” he says from over the brandy decanter and pauses before pouring. “Well, not usually,” he admits with a damnable pedantic honesty that sometimes makes his partner want to laugh, sometimes smack him upside the head. Usually, the American refrains from doing either.

“You did what you had to do?” Napoleon’s voice is consciously over-loud, the hint of an order in the question, as he swings around to face the younger man.

Illya makes a face, moves his shoulders, and takes a sip from his drink. He makes another expressive face.

Napoleon sighs. “I suppose you’d prefer vodka,” he says.

“It’s a cliché, isn’t it,” Illya agrees sadly and sets down his glass. He has not even taken off his jacket, and Napoleon feels decidedly underdressed next to him, barefoot and in a silk dressing gown. “I really should go, let you get some rest.”

“Stay,” and he tries to make it less a command, more a request. Illya glances at him askance but nods readily and wanders further away from his partner, to a previously unexplored nook of Napoleon’s flat.

Napoleon watches the younger man’s movements, deceptively relaxed, and reigns in his impatience. In this mood, there really is no budging Illya Kuryakin, no matter how exasperating he is for anybody else.

Illya is still restlessly prowling, and Napoleon doesn’t move, waiting for him. Eventually he makes it back to Napoleon, and when he would avoid the older man and walk past him, Napoleon snags his jacket shoulder again and stops him.

“You’re straining our friendship even more right now, you know,” he tells Illya, and Illya blinks up at him, guileless and blank. Napoleon knows he’s rationalizing like hell under that remote exterior, and that probably by tomorrow he will have filed the guilt away in some locked storage cabinet in his mind where Illya Kuryakin keeps most distractions most of the time, but right now there’s just a hint of a vulnerability about his green-blue eyes, and Napoleon’s going to make the most of the chance while he’s got it.

He rests his hand lightly against Illya’s cheek once more and reaches around to kiss the blonde’s other cheek, just in front of his ear. Illya accepts the caress but does not respond, standing there politely as if Napoleon were only shaking his hand.

Napoleon does not find this acceptable.

“Did make me wonder, I must say,” he murmurs in Illya’s ear, lips grazing along skin, and the Russian’s tremble is carefully, carefully controlled, but Napoleon feels it transmitted to his fingertips all the same.

“Wonder what?” Illya asks softly, and Napoleon could quietly crow with self-satisfied delight. Illya is going to play his game after all.

“Just how kinky you really are,” Napoleon sighs and wraps both arms around the smaller man when Illya would have pulled away sharply. “Shh,” he goes on and continues nuzzling the side of Illya’s face. The damned man is even wearing a turtleneck this evening, limiting Napoleon’s options without requiring the removal of clothing, and he has a feeling Illya will not be willing to acquiesce to that this evening. Napoleon is in no mood to fight.

“Napoleon—”

“Shhh,” the American says more insistently and nips at Illya’s ear. Illya’s hands had gone to Napoleon’s upper arms in an attempt to push him away; now he sighs in resignation and lets them slide around the older man’s back, quietly holding him.

“That’s better,” Napoleon says quietly and starts manoeuvring them both toward the couch, slowly so he won’t have to stop what he is doing. Illya sits down first, gently pulling Napoleon after him. Napoleon pauses for another sip of brandy, ignoring the new twist of Illya’s lips and the new glance Illya directs at him, before going back to what he’d been doing.

Illya responds accordingly with his own caresses and kisses, and Napoleon finally feels himself relax. “You would think you were trying to kill me or something, the way you’re carrying on,” Napoleon says, running a hand through blond hair in need of a haircut.

Illya snorts against Napoleon’s neck, and the older man grins slightly. “Careful,” he cautions, “that tickles.”

“I hate that he looked like me,” Illya’s voice is quiet, and that hint of vulnerability his partner had seen around his eyes has travelled to his voice. “I hate that I look like—his father did.”

Napoleon’s grip tightens. “It doesn’t mean anything,” he reminds his partner.

“Of course not,” Illya agrees quickly, and the other man knows the guilt is already being filed efficiently away, already he is losing the moment. “But, you must admit, it is still…disturbing.”

“You had me disturbed alright,” Napoleon says grimly. “I was sure you were going to give the game away too soon for a couple moments there.”

Illya stills. “Not so damn fine a job?” he questions, but his voice is wry.

Napoleon smiles his own rueful smile and kisses the tip of Illya’s nose, thinking of the frantic note in his friend’s voice in that lab that would have passed for impatience in anyone else’s ear. “Don’t worry; you had everyone fooled but me.”

Illya suddenly kisses him on the mouth, firmly and with the sort of thoroughness of attention to detail that he gives most things. Napoleon is suitably gratified. Perhaps he was more affected by his ordeal than he thought, or perhaps Illya has managed to completely disarm him, because his body is feeling pleasantly heavy and his eyes don’t want to stay open.

Illya has gone back to his favourite spot on Napoleon’s neck when the older man manages to force his eyes open and stare at the brandy glass before turning his accusing gaze to his partner. Illya looks up unrepentantly and brushes Napoleon’s lips with his own one last time before gently but firmly pulling the American up from the couch and helping him down the hall toward the bedroom.

“That was a dirty little trick,” Napoleon’s voice is mildly put out as they walk slowly. “Especially if you’re right about mixing the stuff with alcohol.”

Illya’s voice is positively smug as he gracelessly dumps the older man on the bed and starts pulling the covers out from under him to tuck the older man in. Napoleon is, alas, too sleepy to object or put a stop to his partner’s fiendish manipulation. “I knew you wouldn’t take it any other way. And you didn’t drink much in any case; the draught is quite powerful in small doses.”

He finishes tucking Napoleon in and looks down at him, eyebrows quirked, the corners of his mouth pressed inward in one of his boyish almost-grins. “Sweet dreams,” he says calmly. “I’ll drop by tomorrow morning to see how you are.”

“I’ll be at the office,” Napoleon mumbles, not bothering to open his eyes.

“Yes,” Illya’s voice drifts over to him, coolly disbelieving, as the younger man leaves the room, turning the light off, “of course you will. I’ll lock up behind me.”

Napoleon would respond, but he is already asleep.