He suspects it long before he sees it.
The American, Napoleon, notices everything. That's part of what makes him dangerous. He can hold a woman, kiss her, and pull a gun on a man walking into the room, without ever giving the woman cause to think she didn't have his complete attention. Still, he thinks he's a better liar than he is. He watches a mark because it's his job, but he watches Gaby because she's beautiful.
And she is beautiful. Illya cannot deny that. They all three share a room most of the time now - functionally, if not in name. Napoleon could stay in the rooms the Americans take out in his name, and take Gaby with him, but Illya suspects they've all been instructed to keep an eye on one another. He certainly has been. The rooms are large, at least.
The mutual distrust is also why they all wear communication units now. They're relatively discreet, a microphone on the lapel and a listening device in the ear, but they make it impossible to ever really get away from each other.
After Istanbul they go to West Germany to investigate an American general's post-war corruption, and that of course is somewhat emotional for all involved. Gaby tries to pretend that she's unaffected by returning to the area, and Napoleon tries to pretend he's not watching Gaby and waiting for her to explode. Illya himself watches them both and doesn't bother with pretense.
Napoleon undoubtedly notices, but gives no sign. Gaby notices and glares at him more often than not. And they go off together, again and again, because Illya is better at killing people, preferably late at night, than he is at charming information out of someone.
It's one of those nights that he's sitting alone in their hotel room. Gaby and Napoleon are out at a club known to be frequented by upper-level American military men. Gaby has been flirting with Napoleon in Illya's ear for the better part of two hours. One of those hours has been wholly unnecessary, as they already won an invitation with General Johnson for lunch tomorrow. When Illya suggested they go home, Napoleon only said, "I'm halfway through my drink and we've got a tab. It'd be a pity to waste it." Gaby, damn her, had agreed. And so Illya sits, legs crossed, on the couch, and stares straight ahead. If he looks elsewhere he'll see Napoleon's coat, or Gabby's shoes, or the rumpled sheets of the bed the two of them have shared and never put to rights. It is, succinctly put, unbearable.
"I'm bored," Gaby says in his ear. "Let's leave."
"It's early yet," Napoleon says.
He can practically picture Gaby's pout. He once thought it was genuine and now knows better, but of course it affects him all the same. "Where do you suggest we go, then?"
"Let's take a walk," Napoleon says.
They walk. Illya says nothing; perhaps they think he's fallen asleep. The wind in his ear tells them they're by the water. It must be a romantic sight.
Abruptly, Gaby says, "I want to be with you tonight."
Illya sits up a bit straighter. Napoleon says, "Let's go, then."
His tracker tells Illya that they return to the hotel; he doesn't expect to see them, and indeed he doesn't. They must be in Napoleon's room down the hall. There's utter silence for so long that he thinks the bugs have been disabled, but then Napoleon says, "I scrambled the signal. He won't be able to hear."
"Mmm," Gaby says. Illya hears the wet noises of kissing, the slide of fabric.
He should stop listening. He still remembers that first time, standing in the hotel room with Gaby, his fingers frozen against turning the dial and leaving Napoleon to his debauchery. He hadn't learned his lesson then, and the events of that mission had started this idiotic fascination with them both. He really ought to just stop listening.
He doesn't. He takes off and covers his microphone, and keeps the earpiece in.
They don't talk much. Gaby says Napoleon's name a few times, and Napoleon requests she move a few times. But talking isn't necessary for actions such as these. He hears them: slick noises, moans, skin on skin. He listens to them grapple, and to Gaby's triumphant noise. He hears her sigh as she begins moving - riding Napoleon, perhaps. He hears all of it, and he can almost picture it. He's seen men and women together before.
When they finally stop, he's dizzyingly hard. His first thought is that he should relieve himself, and damn the consequences. But he can't quite bring himself to. Even listening has been an unacceptable lapse in self-control. Instead, he walks around the room, splashes water on his face, and lies down on his bed, willing his body back to relaxation.
Eventually it works. He falls asleep alone and wakes up to weak morning sunshine and Gaby and Napoleon loosely tangled together in the other bed. Gaby faces away from him, curled into Napoleon. Napoleon is awake and watching him.
Illya looks back, feeling like a bug pinned against a wall. But Napoleon only raises his eyebrows, eyes still steadily on Illya's face. This won't do. Illya gets up and gets dressed, making his escape to the cafe downstairs.
So what if they've chosen to be together? Gaby defected from her own country and Napoleon is a thief. They have a lot in common, and they can be loyal in their disloyalty. Illya has other priorities, other goals. His family has been disgraced for so long that it is part of his own nature. He has no overweening American pride, nor love of luxury. He only wants to complete his missions and do justice to the trust put in him as an agent. If Gaby and Napoleon wish to complicate things with sex, if they wish to ignore Illya entirely, then he doesn't care. It only matters if it interferes with the mission. His brief arousal means nothing.
"We missed you last night," Gaby says from behind him.
He turns around. She's standing there, holding a cup of coffee and looking expectantly at the empty chair across from him. He leans back, scooting the chair to make room for another set of knees. At first he hunches his shoulders, but then, as she sits, he straightens them. He has nothing to be ashamed of.
"I doubt you missed me last night," he says.
"We got drinks." She smiles a bit. "You're funny when you drink."
"Napoleon's funny all the time," he says. Then he winces, because he sounds like an idiot. A jealous idiot, too, which of course he's not.
Her smile, inexplicably, grows wider. "He is. He's very amusing. Of course, he's also a conman. It's to be expected."
He doesn't know what to say, so he exercises wisdom and says nothing.
She sips her coffee, her eyes still on him. The sun is bright on the sidewalk, bearing down with an intensity ill-suited to Germany in September. By all right she ought to have sunglasses on, as he knows she enjoys, but she doesn't. Her eyes meet his, and he looks away first. She looks knowing, and she doesn't know anything. She doesn't, he tells himself.
He didn't even give himself release last night. How could she know?
"He's very good, you know," Gaby says.
He almost spits his coffee out. "He's - good?"
"In bed. We got a bit distracted after drinks. During drinks."
He realizes very abruptly that he cannot listen to her speak, or that he won't listen to her speak - or that in the end, there's no real difference between the two. He stands, upsetting the table in the process. It totters and sloshes her coffee before she slaps a hand on it, stilling it.
"I can't," he says. "I'm sorry."
She looks up at him. She's surprised, somehow. He doesn't understand how she could be. "Illya -"
"No," he says. "Today - you have the meeting today. I am superfluous. I will go."
He does just that, making his way down two full blocks before he realizes he's stolen a full cup of coffee. For lack of anything better to do, he sips it as he continues to make his escape from Gaby, from Napoleon, from both of their knowledge and trickery.
The room is empty when he returns in the afternoon. He goes over reports again - he is inspecting a building in the morning, as a wholly falsified defector and American building inspector - before he very accidentally falls asleep. It is a wildly irresponsible thing to do, without verifying his and his team's safety, which is why he wakes with a start. The bed next to him is empty. He almost leaps out of bed to get to the tracker before he sees them.
Illya's bed is nearest to the bathroom. Between him and that room is an expanse of wall used to display poorly done, would-be Impressionist paintings. Against one of those poorly done paintings stands Gaby, her skirt hiked up to her waist. Kneeling on the plush carpet is Napoleon. One of her hands is in his hair. The other holds her breast, squeezing it as she sighs.
Apparently a bed is too soft for them, or the twenty feet too far. His self control disappears again, more frightening even than a rage. He can't pull his eyes away, can't stop looking at them. Napoleon is licking her, one hand working between her legs, his face slick from nose to chin. The light is dim, yet he can see the expression on Napoleon's face clearly. He's in ecstasy.
So distracted is Illya that it takes a moment for him to realize that Gaby is looking directly at him. She strokes Napoleon's hair and meets his eyes calmly, for a horrible, frozen moment, before her own pleasure overtakes her again and she shudders, clenching her jaw, eyes fluttering shut.
They are the cleanest of machines, the most compatible of pieces. They match each other perfectly, and it's beyond Illya to be angry at this - the spellbinding nature of them, their impulsiveness, anything. How can he? This only underscores how much they don't need him, much less want him. Had it been Napoleon Gaby had been with on that first job, they'd have worked it out that much sooner.
He looks away finally, staring at the ceiling. They won't look over at him again; they're busy. It's cleaner this way. Easier to measure, easier to dispose of when their agencies decide to end the experiment.
He falls asleep to the sound of them moving against each other.
Napoleon greets him the next morning by saying, "You look well rested today, Illya. What time are we leaving for the inspection?"
Illya stares for a moment, baffled beyond words. "We?"
"Of course." Napoleon looks, in that polite way of his, like he thinks Illya's a bit slow for not realizing. "A Russian defector, naturally, will have a handler."
"You don't have a handler," Gaby points out from the chaise lounge. She is, as the name suggests, lounging, in a thin nightgown. Illya hastily looks away, only to be dragged into Napoleon's gaze again.
"So I don't," Napoleon says, "and yet, the fact remains that this is a two-person mission. Ten o'clock, I believe, is the time we're scheduled to arrive?"
"Yes," Illya manages to say.
"Excellent," Napoleon says. "Get dressed, and we'll go for coffee."
Not more coffee. He chances a glance at Gaby. She's not looking at him, but she's smirking down at her book.
This is truly painful. He locks his jaw and prepares for another excruciating outing.
Somehow he's managed to forget that Napoleon's talent is setting people at ease, even when they shouldn't be. They make it through coffee, through the inspection (boring, but Napoleon steals the blueprints and Illya bugs six executives' rooms), and halfway through lunch before Napoleon catches him off-guard.
"Gaby is truly beautiful, wouldn't you agree?" he says.
Illya isn't drinking anything, but he is midway through a bite of his sandwich. The tomato dribbles down his chin before he recovers himself and wipes his mouth. Napoleon's shirt is crisp, his coat perfectly tailored. He looks at Illya with mild interest, like he's discussing a crossword puzzle answer.
"Yes," Illya says finally.
"You were very taken with her in Italy. Of course, she was deceiving us both."
"Yes," he says again, utterly incapable of guessing at Napoleon's motives.
"She rebuffed you, did she not?"
Ah. He's warning Illya off. Well, Illya ought to tell them he knows, anyway. "I understand," he says. "She is yours. I heard."
"In fact, I -"
"I understand." He repeats it more loudly, more harshly. There is no reason for Napoleon to needle him like this. "You don't need to tell me every detail, cowboy. I heard you, I saw you. I understand. She is yours. End of conversation."
"Ah." Napoleon stares at him with clear surprise in his expression. Surprise over what, Illya doesn't know. Perhaps they'd convinced each other that they'd pulled the wool over his eyes entirely. "My apologies. Let's go back, shall we?"
He signals the waiter and, before Illya can object, pays for both their sandwiches. He hovers at the table as Illya shoves down all his frustration, all his bafflement, and stands. He leads them to the street, where he hails a cab and gives the driver the hotel's address.
It's not until they're back in their hotel room, and Gaby stands to greet them, that Illya realizes he's being handled.
Pulling out his wallet is a reaction of instinct. "I should have paid you," he says. "Here." He shoves some bills at Napoleon.
"Nonsense." Napoleon's hand touches Illya's briefly in order to push the money away. His palm is dry and warm. "It was my treat." Before Illya can object, Napoleon turns to Gaby. "He didn't know."
"Wow, really?" she says. "How?"
"Let's just say, for now, he's extraordinarily resistant to changing the narrative."
"Hmm." Gaby looks between them, then steps in front of Napoleon, so close to Illya that he can feel her breath.
Again the freezing happens, this time long enough for her to get a hold on his arms. When he stumbles back, she goes with him.
"Stop that," she says. "I'm a bit tired, you know. We waited almost an hour for you to wake up."
"Almost an..." Last night. Gaby against the wall. Napoleon...
He closes his eyes and shakes his head. "No."
"No, we did," she says. "It doesn't have to mean anything, of course. But we thought it might."
He keeps his eyes closed. It's safer that way.
"You were always telling me how your woman ought to act, after all. You gave me a ring."
"You went with him," he blurts, like an idiot.
"You didn't notice I wanted you," Gaby says.
"I would have!" Now he opens his eyes, which is a mistake, because she's very close and looking at him like she cares, and Napoleon's not as close but also looking like he cares. The latter must certainly be a lie. "If you had, I would have noticed."
"You didn't in Italy."
"That was different."
"Hmm," she says. "Maybe." She takes another step forward.
He finds that his back is against a wall. He has lost awareness, another misstep that wouldn't happen could he maintain control. His hands shake, and for a moment she stops, her eyes on his.
"Do you want this?" she says.
He could lie to any number of questions, or tell the truth about some and push her away forever. But she asked a question with only one answer for him. "Yes."
"I see." She leans forward, and he has nowhere to go, no way to run from this. She takes his hands, notes their shaking, and squeezes them tighter. She leans up, and his control breaks. He meets her halfway, kissing her.
She's sweet, and not any softer than he is. She bites his lip and lets go of his hands to push him against the wall. She practically climbs him, going up on her toes to nip at his neck, yanking his hair until he lifts her so that she can keep kissing him.
He can be frightened in this moment, he decides, just as much as he can be brave. He wants this so desperately that his knees feel weak, and he cannot let her know how few times he's kissed a woman. Or that it's never really progressed beyond that.
Her breasts are pressed against his chest. Her breath is on his neck. He is so dizzy that the touch of Napoleon's hand on his neck makes him jump.
"Easy," Napoleon says. He's crowding them, pressed against Illya's side, but Gaby arches against his touch like she's not even a little offended. Like she wants this.
Well, he supposes she does. He can't see how, but the evidence is right in front of him.
Napoleon is still touching his neck.
He's also, Illya realizes as he focuses again, frowning a bit. That makes Illya stiffen, preparing for them both to pull away. "Something wrong?"
"No," Napoleon says. "I was about to ask you the same thing, though. If I didn't know any better, I'd say you hadn't done this before." He smiles, as though inviting Illya to laugh and say of course, he fucks beautiful people. Ten at a time, sometimes.
Of course, Illya can't. He can't say anything. They're both staring at him, and if Napoleon hasn't worked out the extent of his inexperience, he can see on Gaby's face that she has.
He looks between them both as he says, "I haven't."
Napoleon's hand tightens. He doesn't step away, but he does lean back a little. "With - do you mean with a man?"
"Don't be so -" Illya breaks off. "I have kissed," he says.
Neither of them says anything. Gaby's eyes are wide.
He scowls at them. "I've been busy, you know."
"I understand your moods a little better now," Napoleon says. "You've at least done the job yourself, right?"
He can feel the blush on his cheeks. It isn't helped when Gaby touches him, light fingers against his jaw. "Of course I have."
"Well," Napoleon says, "it's better with help, I assure you."
He leans in and kisses Illya, and Illya goes still. Gaby still strokes his neck, and leans into him, but now there's Napoleon too, fitting a hand on his hip and easing his tongue into Illya's mouth. Napoleon's larger than Gaby, but less sharp-edged. Gaby bit him, but Napoleon coaxes him. He wonders a bit if they planned it, but of course neither of them, apparently, expected him to be - as he is. So Napoleon is improvising, and so is Gaby, and of course they're both doing it brilliantly.
He's dazed when Napoleon pulls away from him. Gaby smiles at him, sliding her fingers under his shirt and scratching his stomach. His stomach jumps and then he jumps, but somehow he ends up leaning towards them, rather than away.
"I knew you were interested when I slapped you," Gaby says.
"That is inappropriate," Illya says. "That was inappropriate."
"A lot of what we're about to do is inappropriate," Napoleon says. He smiles a little, fond-seeming, and leans in to kiss Illya again.
They maneuver him over to their bed. He's not sure how they manage it, given that he's taller and stronger than both of them, but somehow he winds up the first to lie down. The sheets are rumpled as always, and smell lightly of human being: sweat and, just a little, sex. Objectively, it's filthy, but his body doesn't listen to that knowledge. He wants them both.
Maddeningly, they stand on either side of the bed. To look at them he has to move his head back and forth. It gets frustrating in the two seconds he takes to look at them, so that he ends up glaring at Napoleon.
"Seduction is often your job," he says.
Napoleon smiles, just a bit. "Of course. But with a mark, I could get what I want other ways."
Illya's not sure he believes him. "How is this different?"
"Because we want you, you idiot," Gaby says, and drops her dress in one smooth motion.
Skin. He stares. There is so much skin. And she's beautiful, which he already knew, and he's scared of her, which he also already knew. But now she knows, too, so she's gentle when she gets on the bed with him, and gentle when she runs a hand up and down his thigh. His muscles jump, his hands shake, and he clutches the sheets to try for some semblance of control.
"If you want me to stop," she says, "just say stop."
Her eyes are very serious, and when he glances at Napoleon, he looks the same. He nods. Gaby smiles, a little - more of a smirk - and leans up to bite his bicep.
It hurts, and it's wonderful. He spreads his legs a little more, pressing his heels against the mattress. It only takes a moment for Napoleon to join them and, as Gaby continues to kiss him, lick around Illya's cock.
"Ah," Illya says. The sound escapes him without his permission, but Gaby smiles and Napoleon hums, so apparently noise is okay. Napoleon is good with his tongue, as Illya saw last night, and Gaby manages to distract him from his concern enough that when she licks his nipples and tugs his hair, all he can do is give himself up to both of them, moving under them.
He feels it building in him, all the more powerful for being more drawn out than usual. He's ready to warn Napoleon when Napoleon pulls off entirely.
The noise he makes sounds hardly human; he almost recoils from himself. But Gaby laughs and grips him tightly, and Napoleon rolls a condom on him, and he has a moment to look at them and wonder how badly this will all end before Gaby lowers herself on top of him.
His surprised gasp is drowned out by Gaby's moan. She sounds like a hedonist, and she looks like one, too. She rides him, her thighs flexing, her back arching. The hands that touch her breasts before moving down to her clitoris, however, are not her own. Napoleon's behind her, kneeling over Illya's legs, watching both of them with that sly satisfaction that has made Illya's heart beat too hard from the first day.
It's wonderful. It's almost too wonderful; he almost loses control so many times. He manages to restrain himself, but it hardly helps when Gaby snarls and pins his shoulders, bites him, squeezes around him.
And there's Napoleon's hand, trapped between them, pressing hard against Gaby as she comes. Illya's jealous of that hand, a bit; he wants to experience everything. But he can hold Gaby like this, and kiss her back, and finally - helplessly - orgasm under her.
She sighs happily and rolls over next to him. But then her hand goes down between her legs, and he understands that she's not done.
"Ready for a lesson?" Napoleon says.
He'd like to snarl that Napoleon has nothing to teach him, but of course, that's not true. Instead he looks down and sees Napoleon's hand around his own cock. "I think I learned that one," he says.
Napoleon smiles. "Prop her hips up."
Illya looks over to Gaby, sees her looking at his mouth, and understands.
Napoleon drags a chair over. He sprawls in it naked, legs spread wide, hand lazily moving on himself. He tells Illya to settle between Gaby's legs, to stroke her, to play with her breasts. Then he leans back and stretches and says, "You should take it from here, Gaby. You know what you like."
Gaby arches a leg and places her heel on Illya's back, pressing him down. She says, "Lick me. You'll figure out where."
"I know what a clitoris is," he says.
She doesn't laugh at him, though it's a ridiculous statement, a fact that he realizes too late. She only says, "Yes, but around, too," and smiles.
It's more like disarming a bomb than he was led to believe. Not because she's frightening - well, she is, but she's frightening due to being Gaby, not due to being a woman. But what he must do is intricate, and complicated, and exciting. She lets him explore her, and urges him on, and comes against his face and around his fingers, so warm and slick that he's dizzy with it.
When he looks over at Napoleon again, he's wiping his fingers on a handkerchief and looking amused. Something disquieting stirs in Illya, and he looks over at Gaby.
Gaby frowns, first at him, then at Napoleon. Then she says, voice sharp, "Get over here."
"You know I like to watch," Napoleon says, but he obeys her. He only kisses her once, though, before she smacks his chest and nods at Illya.
Napoleon smiles. It's the smile of a con man again, Illya realizes, but not the way he'd first assumed. This smile is one of someone who wants to maintain his exit.
That won't do.
Illya kisses him. This is something he has practice at, and he's not shaking as much anymore. He kisses him until Napoleon falls to the bed, then he lowers him next to Gaby and kisses him some more. Then Gaby grabs him and they kiss as Napoleon watches, and then Gaby kisses Napoleon. They move like clockwork, precise, touching one another until who's been with who is muddied, and until Napoleon is more relaxed.
Then, of course, the phone rings.
"Hello?" Gaby says, picking it up. Napoleon wraps a ringlet of her hair around his finger. She swats at him idly. "Ah, yes, of course. We'll be there shortly."
She hangs up. "There's been an explosion at General Johnson's home."
Their prey has gone to ground. Illya feels his blood heat up. "Let's go," he says, and gets off the bed to fetch his pants.
Gaby smacking his ass as he moves, and Napoleon laughing at them both, only makes the moment a little bit ridiculous.