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Napoleon was frogmarched by two guards through the concrete tunnels. The ceiling was low, the tunnels narrow: the smugglers’ base was once an air-raid shelter, Napoleon surmised, and now housed one of Moldova’s key cesium smuggling operations. The air smelled thickly stale, rank with old sweat and iron, their footsteps loud on the old concrete.

The guard in front of him was Russian, a grizzled veteran, casual and unruffled, in a gray shirt and faded jeans, Napoleon’s H&K in his belt, a Kalashnikov cradled in his arms. Behind him was someone younger, a local Moldovan, nervous and jittery, already sweating profusely, holding a M4 with no real confidence, a combat knife strapped against his belt. Napoleon was far more worried at this point that he was going to get accidentally shot in the back than executed, and arriving at his cell was something of a relief.

The cell door was solid steel, with a slot that was latched on the outside. There was a guard slouched against the wall beside the door, who straightened up as they approached, another local, young, also nervous, with a fresh, reddened tattoo of a skull on his neck. New recruit, perhaps, tasked with a boring job. He unlocked the door to the cell, and the veteran stepped aside, gesturing for Napoleon to get in.

Napoleon obligingly took a slow step, then grunted as the jittery guard grabbed him roughly by the shoulder. He stumbled heavily, with a yelp, then found himself shoved forward, and as he fell hard enough on his flank to knock his breath out of his lungs, the steel door clanged shut behind him.

The cell was ventilated by a small window on the far left, too small even to fit a man’s head, and the shaft of light from the window cast a faint, warm finger across Napoleon’s shoulder. Within it, dust motes wavered in the light, like slow-moving rain. The small concrete chamber stank, an eye-watering stench that came from the stained steel toilet in a corner, and the walls had the occasional dry, black splotches that spoke loudly of past cruelties, none of it fresh. On the other side of the cell, someone stirred.

Slowly, Napoleon sat up. His cellmate was surprisingly young, possibly in his early twenties at the very most, rangy, with long arms and legs, his blonde hair cut short, almost to the skull. His blue eyes were narrowed in suspicion, his mouth flattened into a sharp line, and he was dressed in a filthy thin undershirt that had once been white, and a pair of BDU pants that were caked with dried blood on the right thigh. He was also quite possibly the most beautiful young man Napoleon had ever seen, and for a moment Napoleon thought that perhaps he’d had a harder knock to the head from the smugglers than he had thought.

His cellmate looked Napoleon slowly over - the dusty, stained suit that was probably by now unsalvageable, the shirt with the top button ripped off, tie long missing, the cufflinks, the polished shoes, now mud-caked, and started to frown. “You are the American contact?” he asked quietly, in a thick Russian accent.

Napoleon blinked, then he started to chuckle. “The spetsnaz got impatient, I see. Aren’t you rather young to be in the Special Forces?”

His cellmate visibly bristled, like a wolf cub baring its teeth. “I am spetsnaz!”

“As of when exactly?” Napoleon grinned teasingly, careful also to speak softly.

“None of your business.”

“All right, calm down,” Napoleon said, amused anyway, despite the circumstances. “I’m Napoleon.”

The boy hesitated for a long moment, then he muttered, “Illya.”

“Where’s the rest of your unit, Illya?”

Illya’s pretty face clouded visibly. “Ambush. Commander was… confident.”

“Too confident?” At Illya’s scowl, Napoleon added dryly, “We’re technically on the same side, soldier. And your commander’s not here. It’s okay to give me an opinion.”

“Only ‘technically’, in the way that means ‘yes we are not currently at war’,” Illya shot back resentfully. “You Americans like to pick and choose sides as you please and then take moral high ground. Saying how Russian strategy is flawed. Then you bomb hospital in Afghanistan-“

“I’d love to discuss international politics,” Napoleon interrupted mildly, as he fought down a laugh. “But I think we should focus on the mission. Yes?” How adorable. A shiny new young soldier, still young enough to bristle so fiercely with nationalism.

Illya frowned at Napoleon, as though wary of a trap, then he nodded curtly. “We had tip off from source that we trusted. Should not have trusted - local FSB contact had been bought. We did not know at the time. It was yesterday morning. Commander considered waiting for you to make contact. Decided not to wait. Cesium shipment apparently ready to be moved at any time. Went to investigate. Was trap.”

“Anyone else survive?”

“No. Do not think so.” Illya looked away for a moment, as though upset. “Myself I was lucky. I was bringing up back. The blast only… threw me away. Bruises. Everyone else who was not finished, they finished.” His voice dropped into a low, furious monotone. That was a good sign. Anger, Napoleon could use. Despair would have been inconvenient.

“Any idea what happened to the shipment?” Napoleon asked, if more gently.


“Excellent work,” Napoleon drawled wearily, and Illya stiffened up, again the offended cub.

You also got caught.”


“Why would you intentionally get caught?” Illya asked, incredulous. “That is stupid idea.”

“Seems to save time,” Napoleon said pleasantly. “What with otherwise having to comb Moldova over looking for secret smuggling hideouts, given that my contact turned out to be MIA.”

“But now you are unarmed and in cell.”

“Not exactly.” Napoleon brought his hands out from behind his back, where he had already uncuffed himself with the pin up his sleeve hem. He had the Moldovan guard’s combat knife in his hand, having lifted it from his belt when he had been pushed into the cell. Illya blinked in surprise, then he shook his head.

“We are still behind door.”


“I still think this is stupid idea,” Illya said, though he smiled faintly, as though grudgingly impressed, and the smile lit his pretty face up, softening his jaw, making him look younger. God, he was pretty.

Napoleon sighed. “The things I do to impress beautiful people,” he said archly, and laughed when Illya blushed, though he didn’t duck away.

“If you can get us out of here with a knife then I will be impressed,” Illya conceded.

“With that kind of a challenge… tell me, what are the guard changes like?”

“They change guard last night, once, and this morning, once. Have not been here long enough to know if set routine. Was fed in morning. Not since.”

“All right.”

“So?” Illya asked, too young to hide the hopefulness in his eyes. “You have plan?”

“Can I surprise you?”

This got him a scowl. “They could come at any moment and kill us.”

“What for? Better to bargain us off to our respective governments for favours.”

“Cesium shipment could move.”

“And so? Assuming they’ve even struck a deal as yet, there are agents checking the roads. Nuclear bombs can’t exactly be assembled overnight anyway. We have some time.”

“Time for what?”

“To wait for a better opportunity.” Napoleon grinned. “In the Army they used to call it ‘KGB time’. Early in the morning. Best time to attack.”

Illya sniffed, though his eyes gleamed, possibly at the prospect of revenging himself on his captors. “Americans.”


The smugglers had forced Illya to give them his jacket and kevlar vest, and as the light from the tiny window dimmed, then went dark altogether, Illya shivered, resigning himself to yet another night to be spent freezing in the cell. The American, Napoleon, looked as though he was watching the window, but Illya knew better. The American contact was a CIA agent - Illya had heard enough of the speculation from his late commander.

Napoleon certainly looked the part. He was handsome, like spies in the movies were handsome, with a clean cut square jaw and a smile that the devil himself would’ve been proud of. His dark hair looked fine and soft, feathering over his high forehead, and his eyes were intelligent, amused, confident, absolutely unruffled by confinement. He was older than Illya, and looked like he was in his early thirties, powerfully muscular - Napoleon’s suit, although well-cut, was working extra at the seams.

Everything about Napoleon broadcast calm confidence, and Illya wanted desperately to trust him; then he hated himself for the sudden rush of weakness. Their countries may be technically at peace but they were not friendly, and it was only recently that Moscow had grudgingly allocated an Alfa unit to Moldova, a small force diverted from the main directorate, which had just been sent en-masse to Syria.

“Cold?” Napoleon asked, when Illya rubbed his hands over his arms.


Napoleon let out a sigh. “It’s going to be hours yet, Illya, and I’m not going to snitch on you if you stop being superhuman for the night. You’re very young to be part of an Alfa unit. I’m already impressed, all right?”

Illya felt his cheeks heat up again, and grit his teeth. Napoleon’s charm was like a weapon in and of itself. “Fine. Yes. It is cold. Satisfied?”

“No need to snap.” Napoleon uncurled to his feet, stretching briefly, then he stepped over, and sat down beside Illya, ignoring how Illya tensed up instantly.

“I am not child,” Illya snapped, exasperated, when Napoleon pulled his jacket off and put it on Illya’s shoulders.

“Well no, but you’re starting to turn blue, and I might need the backup in a while.”

Briefly, Illya considered throwing the jacket back in Napoleon’s face, but it was getting cold and the jacket’s lining was soft and warm. It was too large at the shoulders for Illya, though the sleeves would be too short, so he left it on his shoulders, scowling and glaring at his boots. This felt like pity, the sort of pity that a person would give to a lost child, and Illya resented it intensely. “Thanks,” he muttered.

Napoleon grinned at him. “You’re welcome.” The American spy was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, impossibly crinkled, but it didn’t look thick, either.

Illya hesitated for a moment, but then Napoleon glanced back at the window, absently rubbing his hands, as though Illya was forgotten, and grumpily, Illya supposed that he did need Napoleon to get out of here. Reluctantly, he shifted closer, until they were pressed together, and Napoleon glanced at him in surprise before grinning again, lazily this time, and curled an arm around Illya’s shoulders. Illya stiffened, tempted briefly to jerk back, but he leaned into it instead, instinctively, staring hard at the door, refusing to look up into Napoleon’s eyes, afraid of seeing amusement, or worse - pity. Napoleon felt like a warm hearth, all solid comfort.

To distract himself, Illya asked, “So how are we getting out?”

“Don’t like surprises?”


Napoleon’s chuckle was a noiseless rumble. “Look at the door. What do you see?”

“Old steel. Not very thick. Old walls, but those are thick. Brick and concrete. Floor is poured concrete. Latch for guard opens from outside. No handle for latch or door from inside.”

“Yes,” Napoleon said encouragingly. “And?”

“And what else?” Illya asked, puzzled. “Gap between floor and door, but only wide enough for fingers. They open door to bring food. But food comes in watched by guards with carbines. Your dagger will not be much use.”

“The door, Illya. What else about the door?”

Illya was starting to get angry. “You are making fun of me.”

“Not at all - cute as you are when you get stirred up like that,” Napoleon chuckled noiselessly again when Illya growled. “Tell me. Where are the hinges?”

Illya looked back at the door, gritting his teeth, then he blinked. “They are on inside.”

“Exactly. I think this probably used to be a storage room, when the bunker was built, and they repurposed it fairly recently, but didn’t quite do it properly. The plumbing’s fairly new, at least, and the door.”

“So what if hinges are on inside? Door lock is on outside.”

“You spetsnaz,” Napoleon shook his head. “Take away your guns and your knives and you’re no longer great at solving problems.”

“Not true,” Illya bristled. “Also good at hand-to-hand.“

“I’ll take your word for it.” Napoleon said teasingly, and Illya had to swallow the urge to punch him in the mouth. Instead, Illya glared at the hinges. Did Napoleon intend to batter the door open? No, that would draw the guards, would it not? But whatever he intended to do, wouldn’t the guard outside hear him?

The guard change went through, and the new guard undid the spy hatch, glanced in, and closed it up again. “Now what?” Illya murmured.

“Not yet. Be patient.”

“If your grand plan fails, I will laugh.”

“I suppose I’ll have to risk that terrible indignity,” Napoleon said, and now it was dark enough that Illya could not see his amusement. “But if I get us out of here, do I get a reward?”

“What about the cesium?”

“I suppose we’ll have to locate that as well.”

“What sort of reward?” Illya asked, suspicious.

“A kiss?” Napoleon asked facetiously, and laughed when Illya sputtered.

“You are very childish.”

“Am I?”

“These sorts of jokes-“

“Oh, I assure you, I’m entirely serious,” Napoleon said, in a low, husky purr, and this time Illya’s shiver had nothing to do with the cold, though Napoleon misunderstood, and rubbed his arm lightly through the jacket. Kiss Napoleon? Illya wasn’t sure what to think, even as he felt, to his surprise, a warm curl of pleasure and anticipation in his gut. Yes. He would not mind kissing Napoleon: as forbidden as it even felt, as unwise.

“Have not kissed anyone before,” Illya admitted awkwardly, wondering why he was even saying this, to a CIA agent, of all people, and stiffened as Napoleon bit down a low groan.

“I wish you hadn’t said that,” Napoleon said faintly.

“Why? Is true.”

Napoleon seemed to squirm briefly where he sat, as though uncomfortable, then he sighed. “How old are you?”

“This again?”

“Just wondering if you’re even legal.”

Illya fought the urge to rub his hand over his face. “Obviously. Why are we even talking about…? I am going to start breaking your fingers.”

Napoleon let out a startled laugh. “That’s it. I’m going to hell.”

Illya waited, but Napoleon said nothing else, and so Illya decided not to talk either, annoyed. He was tired and hungry and angry, but even as he tried to wait it out until Napoleon’s magic hour he ended up dozing off instead, cradled against Napoleon’s warm flank.

He woke up to Napoleon shaking him gently by the shoulder. “Hey. Time to go.”

Illya yawned, rubbing his face, then he got to his feet, stretching. Napoleon had already walked right up to the door, by the sound of it. “Now what?” Illya whispered, then a thought occurred to him. “You have… CIA gadget? Like movies?”

There was a soft laugh in the dark. “No. But I have a knife, and this is an old hinge bolted on the inside, and if I’m careful and if you help me lift the door a little from the bottom, I can tap the hinge pin out.”

“Oh.” Illya cursed himself. He should have seen that. Some soldier he was.

“Sorry. Nothing fancy,” Napoleon said, amused. “Now lift the door please. I can hear the guard outside snoring, but we’d best be quiet.”


Once Illya got his hands on a gun, he went from being a slightly awkward, gangly young man into something frankly terrifying. The spetsnaz deserved their reputation: the trap, whatever it had been, had to have been orchestrated perfectly to have so decimated Illya’s unit. They had found a land line, upon which Napoleon had called for backup, and by the time they found and secured the stolen cesium the Moldovan authorities had arrived in force, in FBI-donated jeeps.

Napoleon handed the mess over with relief, then got into one of the jeeps, motioning Illya to follow him. Illya hesitated, with open reluctance, then jogged over to sit in the front passenger seat, barely hiding his yawns.

“I need to call in.”

“You need to have a nice warm shower and sleep somewhere that isn’t a concrete floor. Relax. The locals will call in on our behalf,” Napoleon lied. Illya frowned at him, but nodded, and said nothing during the drive back to Chişinău. Napoleon had a room booked in a discreet, comfortable hotel near Strada Ismail, though they’d had to duck in through the service entrance to avoid terrifying staff with their appearance, dust-caked and bloody and stinking of cordite.

Napoleon let Illya shower first, and put through a quiet call to the CIA operator, then when Illya emerged, yawning and wrapped in a bathrobe, Napoleon said, “Feel free to order room service if you’re hungry.”

Illya shrugged, and picked up the menu from the hotel desk, even as Napoleon went to scrub himself off in the shower, the tiles already sandy and muddy thanks to Illya. By the time Napoleon dried off and emerged, he grinned to himself - Illya was fast asleep on the couch, the leather-bound menu hugged to his chest like a shield. Amused, Napoleon pulled out the spare bedding from the wardrobe and draped the blankets over Illya’s sleeping form, then he went to the bedroom to crawl under the quilt.

They ordered in breakfast in the morning. Illya looked adorable in borrowed clothes, the shoulders too large, the wrists too short, the pants riding up his ankles; Illya’s own clothes were likely going to cause someone in the hotel’s laundry department to have a conniption. Napoleon had given up on the suit he had worn, and was in a fresh one, again impeccable.

Napoleon had toast and eggs and coffee, while Illya seemed determined to eat everything that was on offer, all at once. At the end, the plates spotless, Illya curled back on the couch with his own cup of coffee, peering at Napoleon over the rim. “Now what?”

“The day’s been saved,” Napoleon pointed out. “At least for now.”

“You are leaving Moldova?” Illya asked sharply.

“Soon, quite likely.” Napoleon grinned. “Do I still get my kiss?”

“Not sure if I was impressed,” Illya said, though he flushed a little. “I had to get you out of base. Like babysitting. You are very average shot for an agent.”

“I’m not that bad,” Napoleon protested, then realized he’d been baited when Illya smirked. “Don’t make me spank you,” he added, shaking his head, then blinked when Illya’s blush deepened.

Well. That was interesting.

“How about you finish your coffee,” Napoleon said slowly, “And then you let me know if I get that kiss?”

Illya took his time, and made a show of it too, the little demon, and finally, when he deigned to put the cup down, he scooted cautiously closer to Napoleon on the couch, suddenly nervous. Gently, Napoleon drew Illya closer, those gorgeous blue eyes growing wider for a second before closing, his cheeks and ears going redder. Napoleon took in a slow breath, his cock pressing against his pants just at the sight of it - hell, he was a dirty old bastard after all. He wanted nothing more than to take far more than Illya’s first kiss. For a moment of madness Napoleon wanted it all: Illya’s first of everything, his virginity, more. This was far worse than infatuation - it felt like a headlong rush towards addiction, and Napoleon bit down on the side of his mouth, nearly hard enough to draw blood.

“Napoleon,” Illya whispered, without opening his eyes, starting to frown, and Napoleon kissed Illya on the forehead, light and teasing. “What,” Illya said, startled.

Napoleon forced a smile. “Maybe you should have your first real kiss with someone special.”

Illya pulled back to look at Napoleon, openly surprised for a moment, then exasperated. “You…!” He bit out something rude under his breath, then he glared, and even like this, reddened with anger, his eyes bright with it, Illya was stunning. Long fingers grabbed Napoleon by the collar of his shirt, and Illya set his jaw angrily. “Your first kiss. What was it like?”

“Some girl behind the bleachers in high school?” Napoleon didn’t even remember her name.

“Was someone very special I see.” Illya’s tone dripped with disdain.

“I’m just saying that jokes aside-“

“Do you want to kiss me or not?”

“Yes, but-“

Illya spat something Napoleon couldn’t quite make out in Russian, then he leaned forward and crushed their mouths together, less of a kiss, more of a bite. Napoleon froze for a moment before he sighed and tipped Illya’s chin down, pulling Illya into his lap. It took a while for Illya to understand how to gentle the kiss, to allow Napoleon to lick into his mouth, and they were both bruised and panting for breath when Illya finally let up. His eyes were beautifully glazed, but there was still anger there, and some uncertainty, which faded when Napoleon stroked his hands reverently up the graceful line of Illya’s back.

“God damn it all but you’re gorgeous. It’s crazy how beautiful you are,” Napoleon told him, hushed, and Illya’s flush darkened as he hid his face quickly against Napoleon’s neck, as though embarrassed. Napoleon mouthed at Illya’s ear, then kissed his jaw; he could feel Illya getting hard against his thigh, but Napoleon didn’t dare to do much more quite yet and risk spooking Illya.

“When I saw you in that cell,” Napoleon murmured, petting Illya’s flanks instead, “For a moment I thought I’d knocked my head too hard.”

Illya sniffed, but didn’t look back up. “Probably did.”

“You should come back to New York with me,” Napoleon said impulsively, and this time, Illya did rear back up, to stare at him, surprised. “I’ve got a nice house in Brooklyn. And I can show you around. You should see New York while you’re still young enough to enjoy it.”

“You don’t know me.”

“I know that you’re probably in trouble,” Napoleon kept petting Illya carefully, soothingly. “It’s your word against whoever betrayed your team, and you’re the only survivor. Unscathed, at that. Someone whom the spetsnaz trusted must be fairly well-placed.”

“So what,” Illya scowled, growing irritated again, “I let this traitor operate freely and run away?”

“I think that waiting out an investigation into the matter might be more comfortable in New York than in Lefortovo.”

“It won’t come to that.” Illya looked uncertain, however, and Napoleon pressed his advantage.

“You know your people better than that. Besides, what about your family?”

“What about them?” A sudden steely edge had crept into Illya’s tone.

“Do you really want them to visit you in prison? Until things get sorted out?”

Illya glared, and for a moment Napoleon thought that he had gone too far. Illya’s anger had given way to black fury, a murderous rage that turned Illya’s gorgeous eyes narrowed and hard, his lip curling into a silent snarl. Then abruptly, Illya looked away, to the side, and breathed in and out, hard, hands tightening on Napoleon’s shoulders for a moment before relaxing.

“I have no family,” Illya said curtly. “Maybe I see your point. But if I go with you to New York now it is desertion.”

“Nonsense. Our countries are still cooperating. We can work it out,” Napoleon said carelessly, even though he knew that Sanders was going to be apoplectic. “It’s up to you.”

Illya visibly thought this over, nibbling on his lower lip, seemingly oblivious to how Napoleon had to squirm to adjust himself, then he sighed. “I have another idea. You help me find evidence that the one we trusted is a traitor. Then I will ask for compassionate leave and take a holiday.”

“You and your bargains,” Napoleon chuckled. Young as he was, this Red Peril had a certain degree of cunning, even if the manipulation was clumsy. “All right.”


Napoleon’s CIA handler called when they were driving out from JFK in a beautiful red Tesla roadster. Napoleon put the bluetooth headset on, one-handed, then answered the call. “Hello. Ah, it’s you, sir. Yes sir. Back home… yes sir. He’s right here, sir.” Napoleon grinned at Illya, who scowled at him. “I suppose I did technically steal him.” Illya rolled his eyes. “No, I didn’t kidnap him, he’d probably have broken my arm… yes sir. I know that. Yeah. Yeah, military-grade. Stolen… probably was stolen from the Russians like we thought. Yeah, the Moldovans can sort it out.”

Illya glanced out of the window of the car as Napoleon talked, still feeling unsure. The spetsnaz operator had put him on hold, and then had wired him through to the SVR instead of to the Alfa’s major, and the gruff, curt voice at the other end of the line had sardonically agreed to his request for leave and told him to go to New York. The implication that Illya was to wait for further instructions had been left unsaid. So here he was.

“All right sir. Yeah. I know that. See you next time. Bye.” Napoleon hung up, unhooking the headset and replacing it in a compartment. “Everything’s fine. They’ve fast-tracked your visa and you can pick up your new passport at the Russian embassy tomorrow.”

“Usually you Americans deport spies.”

“No one said that you were a spy. You’re spetsnaz, not SVR,” Napoleon raised his eyebrows. “Besides, you’re now a tourist. It’s all above board.”

“All this, again very stupid idea,” Illya said, though he was watching New York go by, avidly, all the sleek glass skyscrapers, the many-fingered crown of American wealth and power. He had never left Russia before, not until the Moldova mission, and now he was here, on the other side of the world. It felt surreal.

“Really? I think that it’s my best idea yet.”

“Not something to be proud of, this habit of having bad ideas.” Illya was starting to feel a little tense again, now that the novelty was wearing off. He knew quite clearly why Napoleon had wanted him to come to New York. Napoleon wanted him - even if ‘want’ seemed an inadequate word to describe the hungry way Napoleon had looked at Illya, back in Moldova, that glittering dark lust that had burned in his kisses, infectious and damning.

Napoleon didn’t seem to notice: he was making another call, this time on speaker, something about a delivery, and Illya sank lower into the leather seat. By the time they rolled into a quieter, leafy residential district he was restless and ill-at-ease. Illya had used Napoleon to prove that the FSB contact was corrupt, but now he wasn’t so sure if trading anything at all had been a good idea. He should have just gone straight back to the Directorate. The sardonic voice from Moscow had unsettled him: was Illya here to spy on Napoleon? Or worse? He felt out of his depth, and missed his unit. Deployed like the focused tip of a spear, life in Alfa had been far simpler.

They pulled up outside a brownstone townhouse, where a trim young African-American girl in dreads was holding the leash of a large dog. It was a reddish brown all over, save its belly, where it was white, and it looked like a mix of retriever, of alsatian, of collie and more, with pricked ears and a long bushy tail and an elegant muzzle, tall and heavy at the shoulders. The dog went crazy when Napoleon got out of the car, barking and squirming and pulling at the leash, and when the girl let it go it lunged over, whimpering and jumping and licking at Napoleon’s face.

“Down,” Napoleon laughed, “Down, boy, hey. Sit.” It sat, panting, adoring eyes fixed on its master. “Hey Annie. Any trouble?”

“Not at all, sir. Pleasure as always.” Annie waved at them and wandered off, heading briskly to a white van parked across the road.

“Dogsitting service,” Napoleon told Illya, as Illya got cautiously out of the car. “Forgot to ask. How are you with dogs?”

Illya shrugged. He’d never had a pet dog before: his father had been allergic to them, and the spetsnaz’s K-9 unit did not play with anyone outside of their handlers. “I like them more than cats.”

“I’m going to park the car in the garage,” Napoleon petted the dog’s head, and it thumped its tail on the sidewalk, excited. “How about you stay here with Autolycus?”

That was in Illya’s opinion an overly complicated name for a dog, but he nodded slowly, and Napoleon got back into the car. Autolycus regarded Illya with trusting eyes, and sniffed his hands politely, but the moment Napoleon emerged from the garage, car stowed, its attention arrowed away again. Wryly, Illya decided that he knew how that felt after all. There was something larger than life about Napoleon’s presence, something irresistible to his orbit.

The townhouse was in white and oak: white walls, oak floorboards, white-and-raw wood furniture, white couches. The living room ran up two storeys, with a mezzanine floor that had a desk and chair and low shelves of books, thin oak steps set into the wall also doubling as shelving. In the living room, from the mantlepiece upwards, the large wall was covered in paintings, densely packed, some oil, some watercolour, the smallest about the size of Illya’s palms pressed together, the largest longer than he was tall. He stared, blinking in astonishment, while behind him Napoleon tinkered around the kitchen as Autolycus’ claws scratched and scrabbled on the floorboards, doing happy dancing rings around its master.

“Like them?” Napoleon asked finally, by his side, holding out a glass of scotch.

“Some are nice,” Illya said hesitantly. He’d never had to give an opinion about art before.

“By the way, what’s the drinking age in Russia again?”

“Eighteen, and I am older than that!” Illya glowered at him. “This again?”

Napoleon grinned at him. “That’s better. I prefer the wolf cub to the little rabbit.”

It was tempting to throw the drink in Napoleon’s face, but Illya drank instead, irritated. “I was told to come to New York,” he said then, a little recklessly. “When I reported in.”

“I thought so,” Napoleon said, amused, wandering over to settle into an armchair, Autolycus lying at his feet, finally tired. “You haven’t really learned to control your expression. Though I guess your usual uniform makes it unnecessary, hm? Balaclavas are so unfashionable, by the way.”

“Then… why?” Illya asked helplessly. “If you knew that I was sent. Why take me here anyway? Into your house?”

There - again that hunger, though Napoleon wrapped it away quickly under a charming smile. “A whim? Fun? Sheer greed?” He put his glass down on the floor when Illya walked over stiffly, and as Illya got onto his lap, Napoleon confiscated his glass as well, setting it aside.

“You are not content with first kiss,” Illya mused, balanced over Napoleon’s thigh, though Napoleon kept his hands to himself. “You want everything else.”

“Can you blame me?” Napoleon asked teasingly.

This was a man who loved beautiful things, Illya guessed, with his elegant house, his strange, ludicrously extensive collection of art, his lovely, no doubt expensive clothes. There was something of the addict in the destructiveness of his greed, like something monstrous gathering and guarding a hoard. Napoleon was a man who loved beautiful things, certainly, but he was also a man who loved to possess them, and that was why Illya was here.

Illya leaned down, tentative and hesitant, then he closed the last inch in an impulsive rush, fumbling the kiss until Napoleon deftly took control again, gentle, but still with an imperious sort of confidence, before which Illya felt willingly helpless. He didn’t know what to do with his hands, so he left them clutching at Napoleon’s shoulders, and as Napoleon pushed a thigh firmly between his legs, Illya froze for a moment, confused, then rubbed against the firm muscle, awkward until the friction and pleasure caught, then he was grinding against the tailored fabric, gasping into Napoleon’s mouth.

“Not here,” Napoleon whispered against Illya’s mouth, husky and rough, the ragged growl of a starving beast, breath hot and stuttered. “Can we move to a bed?”

Illya nibbled at his lower lip, uncertain. He was dizzyingly hard, more turned on than he had ever been in his life, and he could feel Napoleon’s cock pressed against his inner thigh, an unyielding band under their clothes. “I don’t know.”

“All right,” Napoleon said, more gently. “When you’re ready then.” This time, they kissed until Illya’s breaths were ragged, until the ache in his cock hurt; he was lightheaded from it, cast adrift. There was something toweringly, infectiously unselfconscious about Napoleon’s lust, and Illya’s last reservations were fading quickly.

“Bed,” Illya murmured, almost inaudibly.


Illya scowled. “Yes?”

“All right,” Napoleon petted his back, kissing his cheek, his lips wet and bruised, “If you get uncomfortable again at any time, let me know.”

Getting upstairs was a blind stumble, and thankfully the dog didn’t try to follow them. They kicked off shoes at the mezzanine floor and jackets somewhere further up the stairs, Illya’s shirt at the doorway to the bedroom and his belt at the foot of the bed. Napoleon pushed him down on the white quilt and bent over him to kiss him, holding up his own weight over his elbows, and Illya plucked impatiently at his shirt, at the shoulder braces for his under arm holster, and finally pulled impatiently and pointedly at his tie.

Napoleon reared back, tugging the tie off and grinning. “How about I take the edge off for you?”

“Doing what?” Illya asked, puzzled, though he let Napoleon tug down his pants and boxers, his cock already so hard that it was curving wetly down against his belly.

Napoleon spat into his hand and squeezed it in a slow fist from root to tip, again with that supremely obnoxious confidence, and Illya whined, pleasure a shock to the system, bucking up blindly into Napoleon’s grip. Napoleon chuckled, stroking Illya slowly, playfully, until Illya got used to pushing his hips into the pressure of Napoleon’s fingers, rubbing himself against a palm callused from the grip of a gun. His breaths were starting to hitch, Illya clutching at the quilt as he got closer and closer to the white edge of ecstasy, then he cried out as Napoleon abruptly bent to take Illya’s cock into his mouth. He couldn’t have stopped himself from coming if he tried, his breaths ebbing into a thin anxious moan as Napoleon muffled a chuckle and swallowed, then licked at him until Illya squirmed uncomfortably and pushed at Napoleon’s shoulders.

“How’s that?” Napoleon asked smugly, and Illya blinked slowly at him for a long, breathless moment.

“Not bad,” Illya said, trying for indifference, and probably failing: Napoleon laughed.

“How about I get us both cleaned up and try again?”

Illya had thought that he would feel apprehensive or uncomfortable when they were both naked, but there was nothing odd about it after all. The spetsnaz boot camp had communal showers: it was nothing that Illya wasn’t used to, pleasing as it was to surreptitiously admire Napoleon’s powerful shoulders, his broad chest, and set his palms on those tapered hips. Illya was taller than Napoleon but he still felt bracketed in against the cool tiles of the shower as they kissed under the warm water.

The first finger, slick from an unmarked bottle of mild soap, pressed into Illya, and felt strange, uncomfortable, even. But then his body yielded to the unfamiliar pressure, and the second felt like a tight fit at first until he relaxed, mouth pressed to Napoleon’s cheek. Napoleon’s eyes were half-lidded, skin flushed with pleasure, pressing kisses and murmured praises against Illya’s throat, his mouth. Illya relaxed. This was odd, but it was far less strange than he thought it would be, even as it was less pleasurable than he thought it should be. Then Napoleon’s fingers crooked, pressing against something inside Illya that made his spine snap straight against the tiled wall with a choked gasp, pleasure crackling like a live wire through his blood.

“Mm. There we are,” Napoleon said, chuckling, and switched the water off with his free hand, kissing Illya to swallow his cry as he pressed his fingers hard against that perfect spot again. His prostate, Illya thought, dazed, shivering and whimpering, then grinding down against Napoleon’s knuckles. He reached tentatively for Napoleon’s cock, pressed against his hip, but Napoleon shook his head and nudged Illya’s palm away, grinning at him, then nuzzling his neck, thrusting his fingers up into him, roughly, then palming Illya’s cock, already thickened. Illya could hear his voice echoing in the bathroom, all wanton whimpering gasps, a broken stream of “Oh-oh-oh-” that he could not have swallowed if he tried. Napoleon’s breathing was growing unsteady, but he did nothing to touch his own angrily flushed cock, as though he was too purely and absolutely absorbed in Illya’s pleasure to care, and to that damning thought Illya was breaking, with a wail, soiling Napoleon’s fingers again.

Dazed, Illya pliantly allowed Napoleon to turn him around, barely registering the water coming back on. He closed his eyes and let himself be washed, rather enjoying the attention, as intimate as the washing was becoming at times, and was starting to doze off when he felt something warm and wet press against his hole, fingers spreading his cheeks. On his knees, Napoleon smirked up at him, his pink tongue pressed against his lips, and Illya blinked. “You - that is - I thought-“

“Don’t like it?”

“I…” Illya’s cock, to his horror, twitched against him, and this time he felt lust far more keenly, in a gritty dirty rush, like the murderous inexorable edge of damnation. Napoleon tilted his head, almost coyly, and Illya groaned, arching his back, pressing into Napoleon’s grip, lost and glad for it. Napoleon’s tongue pressed firmly against his rim, catching against it, and he teased at first, nosing against him, licking lazy swipes up from Illya’s balls to his cleft, until Illya was hard again and dripping.

It hurt this time, getting hard; it was too soon, but Illya didn’t care, whining and turning his face into the tiles in embarrassment as Napoleon started to lick into him, loud and enthusiastic and obscene. And Illya answered him in hoarse sobs and moans that were just as obscene, just as hungry and loud, rolling his hips against Napoleon’s mouth, straining against the fingers that curled lightly around his balls to fondle them. This time, by the time Illya came he was shivering, his knees weak, and he slumped against the tiles, muffling his cry against a fist. It was Napoleon’s name, swallowed back down now, kept close within, like a curse.

Napoleon was perfunctory, if gentle, as he washed them off and helped Illya out of the shower. Had he gotten off? Illya wasn’t sure, sleepy now, both of them wrapped in towels. He sprawled heavily against Napoleon and let himself get helped over to the large bed, when he curled up in the sheets and went to sleep, nearly instantly.

In the morning, Illya played with Autolycus while Napoleon prepared breakfast in an elaborate fashion, eggs and toast and pancakes and more, and they ate in the small garden with its combed gravel and neat potted plants, Autolycus begging for scraps. Illya polished off most of what Napoleon had cooked and then curled on his deck chair with a warm cup of tea, while Napoleon had coffee, tabbing through the news on an iPad. It was, for a moment, ridiculously domestic, ordinary, even. Illya felt the tips of his mouth start to curl upwards.

Napoleon noticed - Napoleon, it seemed, noticed everything. “First day in New York. What would you like to do?”

Illya thought this over, carefully, enjoying the moment. For the first time in a long while he was making a decision out of pleasure, for which there was no consequence and no structure, and it felt like his world had frozen into a bubble, insulated away from harsher cares. This was perhaps what normal people felt, people born into the world to families of no poisonous consequence, living lives of no punishing significance, and for a dizzy moment Illya felt an intense rush of grateful warmth towards Napoleon for giving this to him.

“I think I want to try hotdog.” Illya recalled something that his squadmates had once discussed, and frowned as Napoleon scrunched up his face. “What?”

“Really? A hotdog?”

“Traditional New York food, no?” Illya noted, though he smirked as Napoleon choked and started to argue. The warmth he felt was starting to ebb, reality settling slowly back in around the edges. This life was not Illya’s, and he was only a visitor; but for now, perhaps for now this was enough. Around him, the wind began to pick up, tumbling dry leaves in a slow and intimate circle around their feet, the first brush of autumn.