Originally written in 2003 revised
Act I-Rue the Day
Napoleon whistled as he wandered into his office, not surprised to find Illya already there.
“Have an enjoyable time last night?” Illya asked, not looking up from his report.
“Ohhhh, yes. It was very invigorating,” Napoleon said as he sat down.
Illya smirked. Invigorating – an interesting choice of words.
Napoleon glance up, noting the satisfied smile on Illya’s face and alarm bells went off in his head. “So how was your evening?” he asked not sure if he wanted to know the answer.
Illya thought about it for a moment before replying, “Invigorating.”
The alarm bells were going full tilt. Napoleon cleared his throat to ask casually, “Just how invigorating?”
“Really, Napoleon. Just….invigorating. Can we drop the subject,” Illya answered.
Napoleon felt a tightness in his chest, though he wasn’t sure why. Something was wrong. Illya wasn’t looking him in the eye.
George Dennel walked into the room just then. “Hi, Napoleon. Here’s the report on the latest….blah..blah..blah.” Napoleon wasn’t really listening his eyes were on Illya who was studiously ignoring him. Dennel finally turned to leave. “By the way, Illya. Did you and Mark have a good time last night?”
Napoleon’s eyes widened. Illya’s face turned red, and then his expression turned placid. “Yes, thank you,” he answered politely. Illya sent a quick glance Napoleon’s way and turned pale at the fury he saw directed at him.
Dennel left the room never knowing about the havoc he left behind.
Illya and….Mark? Perhaps he had heard wrong. But one look at Illya’s face confirmed it. The Russian could hide things from others, but not from him. Napoleon went livid, the pen in his hand snapped as he kept his eyes on his partner. He threw the pen aside and got up from his desk. He wasn’t thinking he was just reacting as he headed for the door.
“Napoleon, no,” Illya said as he got between Napoleon and the door.
Napoleon didn’t stop, brushing the Russian hard enough to one side that he fell over his chair onto the floor. Outside the door, Napoleon quickly set the lock, making sure he could not be followed. Then he set out briskly down the hall.
He and Illya were partners and friends and after stressful missions they were even lovers. Yes he was selfish. There was no way on God’s green earth that he was going to share what he felt was rightfully his. He worked hard keeping that sorry bastard alive for him and him alone.
As the door to Mark and April’s office slid open, his only thought was that Mark was going to rue the day he’d been born.
Act II: Having Your Cake and Eating It Too
Napoleon stormed into Mark and April’s shared office. Grabbed the back of Slate’s jacket and forcefully pulled him from the room. April ran to keep up with him, pausing as they entered the Men’s room.
Napoleon opened a stall door; thrust Mark roughly in, then brought his livid face inches from the startled Brits. “What the hell have you been doing with my partner?” Napoleon snarled.
Illya, his appearance a bit bedraggled, appeared as April stood at the door, uncertain as to whether to enter the bathroom or not. He gently pushed her aside and entered the bathroom. “Napoleon, stop. It’s not his fault.”
Napoleon’s eyes burned into the young Englishman’s before he hurled him out of the stall and stood there, his fists clenching and unclenching.
“Mark, leave,” Illya requested quietly. His eyes remained focused on the American’s back as Mark, with amazing speed, slipped out the bathroom door.
“Why? Just tell me why?” Napoleon demanded, anger evident in every word, his back still to his partner.
“Why? Why do you feel the need to bury yourself in every woman that passes your way?” Illya asked reasonably. “You have no more claim on me then I do you. You weren’t there, Mark was.”
Napoleon worked hard to control the hurt he felt from showing as he slowly turned around. Illya was right as always.
“Why didn’t you call me?” Napoleon asked.
Illya looked away. “It is not in me to beg. Besides would you have come?”
Napoleon walked up to Illya, taking his face between his hands and looked deep into the troubled azure eyes. “If you need me…call.”
A shy smile lit the Russian’s face.
“Promise me never again,” Napoleon demanded.
Illya considered. Mark had been very, very good. He was no Napoleon, but then who was. Illya had enjoyed being the domineering one for a change and who knew when Illya might need to be that again. “Perhaps,” he replied, hedging his bets.
Napoleon pulled him into a warm embrace, satisfied for now. After a moment the two men exited the Men’s room, surprised to find several fellow agents blocked from entering by April, Mark being nowhere in the vicinity.
With a look of gratitude toward her, Napoleon pushed Illya ahead of him down the hall toward their office as he called over his shoulder ordering his fellow agents to carry on.
Illya stopped after two steps. “I’ll be with you in a moment,” he told his partner. He turned and flashed a wicked smile back to the stunned April.
‘Who said you couldn’t have your cake and eat it too,’ he silently mouthed before turning and continuing on his way down the hall.
Napoleon started for their office, and then changed his mind. Needing to get away, to think over his actions, he roamed U.N.C.L.E. headquarters until he found the deepest, darkest spot he could find, a dimly lit circular metal stairway that was so remote he doubted if anyone remembered it was there anymore.
One bulb at the top of the stairway lit the passage as he stopped halfway down and sat running his fingers through his hair wandering what had possessed him. He should never have lost it like that, especially here at U.N.C.L.E. headquarters. He had no right to make demands of Illya, no right at all. Illya was right, he had no claim to him and it was slowly eating away at him.
He remembered Illya’s responses to his demand. Perhaps. A word that stuck in one’s throat and ate at his gut. He folded his arms across his knees and rested his head upon them. Here in this dark, dank stairwell he admitted to himself what the problem was. The fear of losing his partner. If Illya was finding pleasure with someone else, how soon would it be before he didn’t need him anymore? Perhaps it was already too late; he may have already lost his friend and partner.
The more he thought about it, the more he realized his actions had been motivated by jealousy. It was not a sensation that he was used to feeling. No one had ever managed to get close enough to him to evoke the emotion. It had reared its ugly head and refused to be brushed away.
He clamped his lips tightly together as he worked felt his eyes prickle. He was an U.N.C.L.E. agent and agents did not cry. Hell, he hadn’t cried at the death of his parents nor his wife’s all those many years ago.
Napoleon raised his head as footsteps sounded on the narrow metal steps, stopping behind and above him. Napoleon didn’t have to turn to know to whom they belonged to. Who else would have the tenacity to come looking for him, and the ability to find him? He could hear the swish of cloth as Illya sat down, one foot resting on either side of him. “I’m sorry,” Napoleon croaked in a low voice.
“You should be,” Illya stated calmly.
Napoleon would have laughed, but his eyes were burning, a tear threatening to escape.
A hand lightly stroked the back of his head, down his neck to rest on his back, a small sigh escaped. “Napoleon, you are my partner. Not my keeper.”
The simple touch sent shivers down Napoleon’s spine and he remained silent waiting for the denouncement he knew was coming.
“Mark will undoubtedly be staying out of your way for some time. You should not have scared him like that,” Illya chastised lightly.
Napoleon’s rage had been such that if Illya had not stopped him he would have done serious damage to the Brit and that scared him.
“You will apologize to him, will you not?”
Napoleon nodded not trusting his voice.
“Ah, Napoleon, what am I to do with you?” Illya’s voice was light with a tinge of amusement. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back and try as he might not to a sob escaped Napoleon’s throat.
“Napoleon?” Illya asked. His palm reaching to turn his partner’s face toward him met with wetness. Shocked he let out a sigh and rested his head against Napoleon’s back. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know,” he said softly.
With an intake of breath, Napoleon replied equally low, “Neither did I.”
Illya kissed the top of the dark head, patted Napoleon on the back and got up. “When you have composed yourself we will talk, yes?”
Napoleon nodded, listening as Illya turned and slowly walked back up the stairs. Away.
Illya was worried, he checked his watch. It was way past time for Napoleon to have stopped sulking. He was tired and wanted to go home. Putting away his work he started his search in Napoleon’s office only to find he was not there. He sat on the desktop and called downstairs, thinking that Napoleon had left without him and was relieved to hear that the records showed that he was still inside the building.
He began his search in the most obvious places. The bathrooms, the commissary, the secretarial pool, the gym. He even contacted Mr. Waverly’s secretary. If Napoleon was doing this to get back at him…it was working.
Fear gripped him as he decided to check the stairwell where he had last seen Napoleon. The closer he got, the more his fear grew. He opened the door, noting that the stairway was in darkness. Flicking on the light, his heart almost stopped as he saw a body lying crumbled at the bottom of the stairway. Rushing down, he grabbed hold of the stairwell, having almost slipped as his foot skidded on something slick.
He reached the bottom and checked Napoleon’s neck, relieved to find that there were signs of life. Removing his jacket he bundled it up placing it under Napoleon’s head the pulled out his communicator to make his call for help. “Agent down. Stairwell 3B.”
Sitting down on the nearest step he actually began breathing normally again. The questions of how Napoleon had ended up at the bottom of the stairwell would have to wait. He frowned as he noticed all the blood pooling from beneath Napoleon’s head.
The doctor arrived first almost skidding down the stairway himself. He looked up and yelled. “Careful, there’s something slippery on the stairway.”
Illya moved to one side, making room for the doctor, having no idea how they would manage to get a gurney down. He shivered as a slight breeze swept through him.
The doctor knelt down and pulled out his stethoscope to check for a heartbeat. His eyes were sympathetic as he looked up at Illya, before calling to the male nurses. “Take your time, there’s no rush. Just throw me down a blanket.” He caught it and spread it over Napoleon covering his face.
‘Nooooo!’ Illya screamed inside his head.
Two weeks later Illya sat in Mr. Waverly’s office. The report on Napoleon’s death sat in front of him. The slippery substance on the step had been identified as blood, Napoleon’s blood and Napoleon’s death ruled a suicide. Illya could not believe it, true Napoleon had been…not himself. But to end it all? No, that Illya could not, would not believe.
The door slid open and Mark Slate entered the room.
“Mr. Kuryakin, I have decided transfer you to our London Office along with another of our agents. You have worked with Mr. Slate before I believe. I’ve made the decision to pair the two of you together. ”
Illya blinked in disbelief. Napoleon wasn’t even cold in the ground and they were making plans to replace him?
“It will be a pleasure,” Mark said warmly.
Looking up behind Waverly’s shoulder Illya spotted a saddened Napoleon dressed in a white linen suit. He clutched his chest as a sharp pain hit him. Darkness descended and he slumped forward.
The next thing he knew he was looking down, his body having been pulled from the chair to lie flat on the floor. Waverly was shouting over the intercom system for medical while Mark was attempting mouth-to-mouth respiration. The door swished open and four men along with a gurney rushed in.
“What happened?” The lead doctor called out as he pushed Mark out of the way to begin examining Illya’s body. Waverly gave a concise account of what had occurred. In short order the room turned into a madhouse as he called for a set of defibrillators and hurriedly ripped the white shirt opened.
“Am I dead?” Illya asked calmly.
Napoleon shook his head and moved closer to his partner. “You’re in transition. Soon they’ll be able to restart your heart and after a couple of month recuperation you’ll be shipped off to London with Mark as your partner.”
Illya sent a sharp look to Napoleon, who looked angelic. “Tell me you did not kill yourself,” he demanded.
Napoleon sighed. “It was stupid. I realized it the moment you left. I was on the way back up to tell you how sorry I was about the way I behaved when the lights flickered and I slipped. When I tried to catch myself, a sharp edge of the railing dug into my wrist. I hit my head on the way down and never felt a thing. The rest is history.”
A slight smile lit Illya’s face. The fact that Napoleon’s death wasn’t intentional came as a big relief.
“It was my time,” Napoleon offered. “That does not mean that it is yours at least right now.”
“And just when is my time?”
Napoleon looked away not wanting to answer.
“You survive. You and Mark go to London. You pull away from all your friends, then one day while on assignment in Yugoslavia, Mark will arrive too late.” Illya could see tears glistening in Napoleon’s eyes. “That has always been my greatest fear that one day I would arrive too late to save you.”
The doctor was working frantically squirting gel on the almost hairless chest. He checked the paddles and ordered the minimum voltage while a tech did CPR. He called “All clear.” And everyone backed away as he applied the paddles. Illya’s body jerked but nothing happened. The doctor called for an increase in voltage and was ready to try again.
“Do I have to?” Illya asked. “Do I have to live?”
Napoleon’s smile spoke volumes as he snapped his fingers and the lights went off.
“Shit,” yelled the doctor.
When the lights came back on Illya and Napoleon were floating above everyone. Illya looked down seeing his dead body on the floor surrounded by medical personnel. He wanted to feel sorry for causing everyone pain, but he couldn’t find it in himself.
Napoleon reached out his hand and Illya took it. Soon they were moving in a slow circle, their clothing having disappeared. They came together and kissed, their bodies clinging tightly together as they twirled faster and faster, their kissed deepened until they rose upward into a bright light.