Gaby was late. A minute or two was one thing, but a full ten minutes without her showing up made Illya worry.
“Gaby there yet?”
Napoleon spoke into Illya’s ear from the car. One of the few times, Gaby and Illya were working together as Napoleon was stuck as the getaway driver. He wasn’t the best driver, but the target had a strong interest in delicate girls and Illya was good at taking down masses of guards without detection. So ignoring Illya’s complaints, Waverly sent Gaby in.
Looking at his watch, Illya growled, “No. I’m going back in.”
“Uh, no. Stay here, she can handle herself, Peril-”
Illya opened the door to the apartment complex, and started up the stairs.
Napoleon breathed out. He would have to wait at the meeting point then, making sure the coast was clear for when Illya and Gaby came back out. He wasn’t supposed to leave the car, but Illya wasn’t supposed to go back in. This whole mission was turning to shit.
As Napoleon complained into the mic, Illya stormed into the target’s room. Everything was the same as when he left it. Backing out of the room, he continued down the hall, a gun pressed to his thigh. Reaching the end of the hall, he noticed a door cracked open in the intersecting hall. Moving slowly, he toed the door open, giving himself enough room to slide through.
“It took you longer to find me then I thought.”
Illya’s gun was up and aimed to shoot before relaxing at the sight of Gaby crouched over a man with a nasty head wound on the bed.
“What are you doing? You never showed up at the meeting spot.”
Gaby raised and eyebrow at Illya’s upset voice.
“I was busy. I’m just finishing up.”
“This was not a part of the mission.”
She rolled her eyes, placing fingerprints and DNA samples into a bag and sliding it into her purse. Standing up, she grabbed her other shoe from the floor, some blood caked to the heel.
“Not your mission. This was my mission. You know, I learned that my heels are a great weapon today.”
Illya’s hands tightened into fists, “What do you mean, ‘my mission’?”
Gaby held his shoulder, pulling the heel back onto her foot, “I mean just that. I was given a mission along with the one we just finished.”
“We haven’t finished the other mission yet and you’re jeopardizing the entire operation.”
Rolling her eyes, Gaby placed her hands on her hips, “Don’t be so dramatic Illya.”
Static filled Illya’s ear before Napoleon’s voice broke through, “…been shot. Three men are heading up.”
Those three men appeared at the door right when Illya turned around. Gunshots rang out as Illya yanked Gaby against his body, shielding her when they leaped behind the couch. Illya felt the sting of a bullet grazing his thigh before settling against the back of the couch. Gaby sat in his lap, her knee digging into the wound and her cheek soaked in blood from a knick underneath her eye.
Illya gave her a hard look. She grimaced.
He pushed her back, his hand feeling the slice on his thigh and coming back dark red. Gaby glanced at the wound before grabbing Illya’s gun. She leaned over him, her collarbone level with his eyes, the gun pointed over the couch as she pulled the trigger. Illya heard a body hit the floor. Gaby retreated as shots dug into the couch. Her eyes met his until the shots ended abruptly. He nodded and she popped back up, five bullets sent into the two bodies. They crumpled to the floor. Gaby moved out of his lap, the bandanna wrapped around her hair pulled out and pressed against his injury in a second.
Illya winced. He was going to have to scold her later. If Illya had heard correctly, Napoleon had also been shot.
“We need to go. Cowboy is injured.”
Gaby looked guilty as she helped Illya up and let him lean against her, his leg not able to hold his weight. She held the gun out in front of them as they made their way down the stairs. A heavy downpour of rain met them when they stepped out one of the back doors of the building. They passed the meeting point, finding blood spots staining the sidewalk before continuing to the car. Napoleon was reclined in the passenger seat, a hand pressed to a bleeding shoulder. Gaby pushed Illya into the backseat and climbed into the driver’s seat, drenched from the rain. She changed gears quickly, speeding them away to the safe house.
“What…the fuck…were you guys doing?”
Napoleon’s normally cheerful attitude was gone. He breathed heavily, blood running out from between his fingers and his wet hair hanging in his displeased face. Illya’s angry blue eyes met Gaby’s in the rearview mirror.
“I was completing the mission.”
Illya growled, “Gaby.”
“I’m not going to change my answer, Illya. I finished the mission. We ran into some unforeseen trouble.”
“Well, it doesn’t matter what happened. I’m bleeding out.” Napoleon slumped into his seat.
Gaby grabbed his good arm, shaking him, “No. Napoleon, stay awake. We’re too close.”
She pulled up by the safe house rapidly, climbing out of the car mid-stop. She rushed to the passenger side, the rain running into her eyes as she reached in and dragged Napoleon out of the car.
“I’ll be back for you, I promise,” Gaby muttered, leaning back in to look at Illya. He glared back.
Gaby ignored the hurt she felt as she slammed the door shut. Practically dragging Napoleon into the building and up the stairs, Gaby was wildly out of breath when she reached their room. After pulling Napoleon into the room and pressing a towel to his shoulder, she called the nurse UNCLE kept handy for them. She hung up and ran to Napoleon. Slapping his face, Gaby watched his eyes flutter.
“Come on Napoleon. I can’t have you die on my hands.”
He barely mumbled the words, “I’m trying not to.”
Gaby grinned. After pressing the towel down again and placing his hand against it, she hurried out the door to help Illya. She found him half-way up the stairs, his clothes leaving a mixed puddle of blood and water on the steps. His face was pale when he looked at her. She wrapped her arms around his waist, pulling his arm over her shoulders.
They struggled up the stairs to the landing before Illya spoke.
“You’ve left me before.”
Gaby frowned, her heart twisting. By the time they reached the room, the nurse was already there. Napoleon was sitting up, his shirt off with the nurse packing the wound. Gaby helped Illya onto the couch, careful to dodge his leg. Finishing with Napoleon, the nurse jostled Gaby away to get next to Illya. Gaby stood close by as the nurse tore the fabric away to get to the injury.
Unlike Napoleon, the bullet hadn’t gone all the way through, but sat inside his leg. The nurse explained she was going to have to dig it out. Gaby collected the items listed to her and stood by waiting for more instructions.
“I need you to hold his shoulders down. You-” she pointed at Napoleon, “hold his feet. Try not move your shoulder too much.”
It was almost an impossible task but Napoleon simply winced against the pain in his arm as he grabbed Illya’s ankles. Gaby placed her small hands on Illya’s shoulders, hoping she had the strength to hold him down.
“Here I go. It should be quick, but if it’s deep, I might have to work it out.”
Blood from Gaby’s cheek dripped onto Illya’s neck, sliding down his throat. She tried to give a reassuring smile, but his eyes were icy. Gaby could tell the moment the nurse reached in because she had to drive all of her weight into his shoulders to hold him down. Napoleon cursed, but they managed to keep him still. Luckily, the nurse pulled out the bullet a few seconds later and dropped it onto the table. Illya sunk back into the couch as the nurse cleaned the wound and began bandaging it up.
Gaby helped Napoleon to one of the armchairs, throwing him a towel to dry off with and a blanket placed over his shoulders.
“Girl. Come here.”
The nurse ushered Gaby to sit on the coffee table as she checked the slice under her eye. Stitches were decided on. Gaby fidgeted as the nurse sewed her skin back together. It probably wasn’t going to scar since they had gotten medical attention right away, the nurse murmured. It didn’t make Gaby feel any better.
The room was silent except for the sound of the rain against the windows. After giving instructions to everyone, the nurse left with a small smile at Napoleon.
The three of them sat, listening to the rain until Napoleon finally spoke.
“So what happened?”
Illya shifted on the couch behind Gaby. She sighed.
“I was giving another mission by Waverly. It was simple. The target would be by himself and all I had to do was get his prints and some DNA. Waverly must have forgotten to tell me that the guy was over 6 foot and 150 pounds heavier than me. I finally knocked him out with my shoe when he got distracted. That’s why I was so late to meet Illya.”
Napoleon nodded as he stood up.
“Remind me not to trust Waverly with our lives if he pulls this shit again. He shouldn’t have given you that mission without telling us in the first place.”
Illya scoffed as Gaby gave him a look of relief. He understood that she honestly had no choice in the matter. When Waverly wanted something done, it was completed no matter what. Their first mission together was proof enough. Napoleon buttoned up his bloody shirt over his bandages and patted Gaby on the shoulder.
“I’m going to update Waverly on everything. Don’t feel too bad. We all survived and the missions completed.”
He smiled before leaving the room. Gaby sighed. At least Napoleon wasn’t mad at her. She turned around on the table, lifting her legs up and over to the other side.
“How are you feeling?” She asked casually. Illya stared at the ceiling, his jaw clenched. Gaby felt her temper rise.
“I don’t get why you’re so upset. We completed the mission. I’m sorry, you guys shouldn’t have gotten injured-”
“I don’t care about Cowboy or I. What if the man had killed you?”
Illya spoke the words out of worry, but Gaby only heard pity. Her eyebrows bunched together as she stood and pointed her finger down at Illya.
“I’m getting sick of this. I’m capable of taking care of myself, Illya. If I were Napoleon, you wouldn’t even bat an eye. I’m not useless and I’m not going to stand around while you and Napoleon risk your lives. I don’t understand how Napoleon respects me but you don’t.”
Illya sat up, his one leg stretched out on the couch.
“You’re not Solo or me. You’re-”
“I’m a girl?! Is that it?! I’m this little frail thing that needs to be saved by some brave man?”
“But I did have to save you earlier.”
Gaby felt like screaming, “No you didn’t! You freaked out over a measly ten minutes and tried to act like the hero. If you had stayed put, the men never would’ve gotten into the building, no one would’ve gotten injured, and I would have strolled out of there with two missions completed. But no, you had to let your feelings get in the way.”
Illya’s head snapped up. Gaby shut her mouth, sensing her already heated cheeks burn more. She had known his feelings since their first mission. She just hadn’t had the time to act on her own. Honestly, the whole situation terrified her. In the past, men who were interested in her never had their feelings reciprocated, but this Russian made her stomach twist and her mind shut down. Gaby hated herself for it. She was supposed to be her own woman.
Exhaling, Gaby felt her heart drop with her words, “You should treat me like Napoleon from now on. I’m as much a spy as you and him, so I’m just as much a partner to you as him.”
Illya’s eyes dropped to his hands. Gaby wasn’t sure if this counted as a rejection but it broke her heart nonetheless. Turning away, she walked towards the bathroom and stopped at the door.
She watched Illya frozen on the couch before speaking, “I thought as a KGB agent you would understand. I mean, you understood in Rome when I betrayed you and Napoleon.”
She paused, “I have no choice, Illya.”
Gaby left him to ponder her words. They could be about the mission or her forced rejection and hidden feelings.
To Gaby’s surprise, Illya obeyed her wishes (but of course, he would; he was a man of his word). They had gone on three more missions and not a word was spoken against Gaby’s ability to perform. Even when a bullet had sliced across her forehead in a rushed getaway, Illya didn’t say anything but to check if she was okay. Other than that, Gaby was starting to feel like all three of them were on even levels with each other.
However, Gaby also noticed the absence of Illya’s small smiles he used to send her way. His hands no longer touching her unnecessarily. When he had to fix her transmitter again, both of them in the same positions as in Rome, he switched it on and turned away. Napoleon’s smile dropped as Gaby’s eyes followed Illya’s retreating figure. She never had to say a word, and Napoleon always caught on quickly.
“What did you say to him?”
Gaby wasn’t so sure anymore.
A few months later, Illya and Gaby found themselves running through the halls of a very expensive hotel with at least five armed guys trailing behind. Gaby’s heels were in one hand while the other held up her fancy, diamond encrusted dress.
Illya was tempted to lift Gaby into his arms so they could move a little faster, but his heart ached at the thought of touching her. She made it quite clear on how she felt about him. She had really played him good. It was shameful and his Russian pride was wounded greatly. But mostly, he hated how much it broke his heart.
Gaby’s hand on his pulled him from his thoughts.
Gaby yanked him through a small door, his forehead smacking the header of the door before she shut the door behind them. Open slots in the door gave Illya plenty of light to take in his surroundings. It looked to be a janitorial closet. A rather small janitorial closet.
Illya’s pulse quickened. Gaby’s bare feet were wedged between his and her head knocked against his collar when she tried to look out the slots of the door. Both of their chests were heaving against each other from the escape. This was everything he wanted but not allowed.
Gaby was split. A small part of her was terrified with every shift of Illya’s body against hers. But the majority of her was sighing and wanting to lean closer. This was everything she needed but not deserved.
When the men ran by their hiding spot, Gaby let a large breath. She turned her head up, smiling at Illya in relief. He looked back down at her, and Gaby could see the red mark from where his forehead had been rammed into the spot above the door. Releasing the hold on her dress, her fingers reached up to brush the spot when Illya’s hand gripped her wrist, stopping the movement.
His eyes closed gently before he spoke, “Please, don’t.”
The guilt and shame burning in Gaby’s stomach made her frown. She had to tell him or it was going to rot her from the inside out.
“Illya,” His grip tightened, “I-I didn’t mean to-”
Gaby pulled her wrist out of his hand and pressed her palm to his cheek. His eyes were confused and so incredibly hurt when they opened to look at her.
“No, it’s not okay. I wanted you to treat me equally. I didn’t want…I was…God, Illya…I miss everything.”
Gaby paused, trying to gather her courage with Illya watching so closely, hanging on to every single one of her words. She had never been good at expressing her feelings, probably due to a messed up childhood, and she struggled to spit out the words now.
“I miss the way you used to comfort me and worry about me. I was so mixed up; I didn’t understand that all I wanted was to be given some freedom to make my own decisions. I wanted to be treated equally on our missions, but not…I guess…I’m just so sorry. So sorry I hurt you.”
Illya’s hands found her neck, barely brushing the hair from her face. Gaby finally noticed how close he had leaned down, his eyes searching for a sign that this was allowed.
Dropping the heels in her hand, Gaby gripped his neck and pulled him to meet her mouth. Sighing into the kiss, Gaby let her hands tangle in his hair and run across his neck.
Illya turned to clay under her hands. He had wanted to kiss her from the first moment he met her and the past few months had broken everything in him. Luckily, he had held onto all the pieces and she was making quick work of fitting them back together.
When they finally left the closet, Gaby had given him the brightest smile as she pulled her shoes back on. He grinned back, holding out his arm for her to grab. They began their trek back to the hotel room when Illya spoke quietly.
“You said to treat you like Napoleon. Does that mean you’re now Napoleon with benefits?”
Gaby’s laugh was music to his ears.