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The Art of Skiing in the Alps

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1. “Follow my lead,” is all Napoleon says before he pulls her into an alcove and kisses her. He pulls her flush against his body, tangles one hand in her hair and loops the other around the meat of her thigh, hooking her leg up over his so her dress slides up and the top of his thigh rubs against the thin strip of underwear directly between her hips.

Gaby melts into him-purposefully, as she hears booted footsteps pounding not far away. She’s not entirely certain what to do with her hands-there’s just so much of Napoleon, all strong and warm and capable and smelling of aftershave-so she ends up fisting her hands in his jacket and holding on as best she can when he takes most of her weight.

It fools the four security guards, at least, who run past them without more than a quick glance.

Napoleon gives her a look a few minutes later, when they’re mostly safe, that usually means he’s irritated but trying to hide it.

“I should have told you earlier that we might have to play honeymooners, if I’d known you’d free-”

She hates herself a little bit, but she can’t help her face from flushing dull red. She bites her lip and looks at her dress and pretends to brush some dust off of it.

“If I’d known you’d crease my jacket. It was my favorite.”

If his tone were gentle, she thinks she’d punch him. In the throat. It’s not, though; it’s just Napoleon, joking and snippy and just a little rude, and when he takes her hand to help her over a garden wall, there’s nothing but brisk, competent efficiency in his touch.


2. One night in Vienna, she falls asleep listening to them talk in the room beyond hers. She dreams of what it would be like-Illya finger-fucking her to completion, rubbing her off with the palm of his hand; Napoleon, head between her legs, stubble rubbing against her thigh, hot breath ghosting against her lips (“She’s trembling, Illya. Do you think she’s scared?”).

She wakes up hot and aching with wet fingers under her pajama pants.


3. “I read his file,” Gaby says. “He’s into my type. It’s why they put us on this mission, isn’t it?”

“Our mission is to get the information,” Napoleon says from her left. “It doesn’t matter how.”

They’re lying side by side in front of the window, binoculars at the ready, keeping watch for when the guard changes on the estate ahead of them.

“But if I just flirted with him and-”

“You read his file,” Illya says from Napoleon’s side. “You know he is not the sort who stops at flirting, and without experience at that sort of mission, would not get information.”

Several things go unsaid by all of them, then, and Gaby focuses back on the guard smoking by the oak tree.

“It is like skiing in the Alps,” comes Illya’s non-sequitur several minutes of silence later. “I have been, on a mission, once, but Napoleon has not, and if it were necessary for one of us to go skiing in the Alps for a mission, I would go, and I would not think less of the Cowboy because he does not know the layout of the courses.”

The guard drops his cigarette and crushes it underfoot.

“Well,” Illya says, “I would not think less of the Cowboy than I already do.”

“You charmer,” Napoleon answers, eyes never wavering, “I bet you say that to all the agents.”

“Only you, Cowboy.”


4. “Your foster-father was a careful man,” Illya observes when he watches her adjust the poppet valves on the engine of their ‘borrowed’ Jaguar. “He taught you, yes?”

Gaby grabs the rag she’s sprayed with degreaser and leans over the part. “He was very thorough.”

“It must have been difficult, raising the daughter Udo Teller. To avoid interest, that is.”

Gaby ‘hmm’s.

“He would have had to be careful, not to bring attention to himself,” Illya continues, “And he would have taught you to be careful, too. To avoid gossip. Above reproach. To live-quiet life, no close friends to turn against you, no relationships that could be used by someone, yes?”

Gaby doesn’t blush, now, but she doesn’t look at Illya either. He’s sitting on a bench behind her, cleaning his gun, so she doesn’t have to.

“I did what I had to,” she says eventually. “We both did.”

“Exactly,” Illya says.


5. In Zermatt in Switzerland, a man faces Illya and holds Napoleon hostage with a knife to his neck. Illya distracts him, Napoleon talks to cover her footsteps, and Gaby sneaks up behind the man and shoots him in the head. Blood sprays from the front of his forehead onto Napoleon’s suit, and bits of tissue and brain matter splatters on Gaby when the bullet shatters his skull. His hand goes slack and he topples forward like a mannequin.

Her whole body trembles.


6. They take her back to the hotel. Illya sits her on a chair and Napoleon rubs her face with a soft, damp cloth. It comes away red with bits of gray on it. Her stomach heaves.

“Thank you,” Napoleon says. “You saved my life.”

“As good as the best KGB agent,” Illya croons. He pulls her hair back and rubs a wet towel over it.

She leans away from Napoleon and vomits.


7. They pull together the two beds the boys sleep in under the window where the sunlight won’t bother them. Gaby lies down in the middle, and Illya and Napoleon climb in on either side.

“Go to sleep, little chop shop girl,” Illya says. He rubs his fingers across her temple. She’s still trembling, though it’s probably just adrenaline, now.

Napoleon inches closer so she feels the warmth of his body against hers. “We’ll be here when you wake up.”

Gaby shuts her eyes.

If she opens them and sits up, she can see the Matterhorn from her window.