The New Beginning AffairbyPelaam©
Pelaam© May 2010
Author's notes about this story are at the end.
And I won't be satisfied
Until you're here by my side
You're as close to me as two is to three
And the door is still open to my heart (Lyrics: The Door Is Still Open To My Heart)
A large hand reached to scrub at tired hazel eyes as Napoleon watched his too-pale partner sleep. He glanced away from Illya's face to take a slender, capable hand in his. He rubbed the knuckles with his thumb. If anyone were to look at him now he knew they would not see Napoleon Solo the handsome, sophisticated, debonair ladies'-man and half of the most respected and successful partnership in the organisation. They would see someone whose face was lined with exhaustion and anxiety, whose suit was creased and rumpled and who only had eyes for the unmoving blond lying in the hospital bed.
And they would also see the real feelings that Napoleon normally kept well-hidden from the world.
Stupid. Clumsy. Idiot. Each harsh word and more besides was directed at himself. He lifted Illya's unresponsive hand to his lips and pressed a soft kiss to its palm. He then cradled it in his larger hand and rubbed it over his beard-roughened cheek, needing the faux-intimacy, willing his partner to respond. Please, Illya. Open those beautiful blue eyes, he pleaded silently.
It had taken every ounce of his self-control not to bellow like an angry animal at the surgeon's standard platitude.
"We were lucky, Napoleon. The bullet passed through relatively harmlessly. It just nicked a vein which caused the excessive bleeding. It didn't hit anything important. He'll be fine."
As he played the words over in his mind, he stifled the sound of anger and grief by pressing Illya's hand over his mouth. Of course it had hit something important. It had hit something vitally important and the most precious thing Napoleon had in his luxurious, but otherwise empty, life.
It had hit Illya.
And it should have hit him instead.
No matter how many times he replayed it over in his mind, the same words came back to haunt him.
Stupid. Clumsy. Idiot.
They had successfully exited the lab, and were sprinting away as it exploded behind them. He had been leading as usual, and he had spotted the shooter. However, as he had started to raise his gun, he had tripped. Over his own clumsy feet. He knew there would be no time to raise his weapon again as he staggered to regain his equilibrium. He could only hope he received a minor hit.
Instead, a blond angel had once again saved him. He was still unable to fathom how Illya had closed the distance between them, leaping the last couple of feet, one arm outstretched towards him and the other levelling his gun in the shooter's direction. Then everything had happened at once. Illya's out flung arm had shoved him safely aside. One, or all three of Illya's rapid-fire shots, had hit and downed their nemesis and Illya had almost... almost... succeeded in remaining unscathed. However, his speed was just a fraction too slow and the bullet meant for Napoleon had torn through Illya's body.
Seeing his friend, his partner, hit and bleeding, sent through Napoleon a pain deeper and sharper than any bullet hitting himself could have been. There was nothing he could do except tear at his shirt to create a make-shift bandage to press against the profusely bleeding wound and help Illya over the couple of miles to their car. His Russian wolf had been as stoic and undemanding as usual, not letting Napoleon know just how freely the wound was bleeding. However, even Illya's tenacity had finally crumbled, and Napoleon had carried his unconscious bundle the last few hundred yards.
They had rendezvoused with their helicopter, returned to headquarters and while Napoleon had been quickly and efficiently debriefed, Illya had been equally quickly and efficiently operated upon. That had been early yesterday. After his debriefing, Napoleon had changed into spare clothing and mounted his vigil.
He could not help but muse that his reactions were slowing. He was slowing. He had ineffectually tried to suggest that he and Illya move away from field work. He had been working on securing a role in training and development, and he knew the Labs would welcome Illya with open arms. However, he had not found the right way to put it across to Illya. The blond had thought it was because Napoleon wanted a new partner and the brunet had spent a good few hours assuring Illya that was as far from the case as possible. He did not want a new partner.
He wanted Illya. In all ways. For all time.
Yet bold, daring, audacious Napoleon Solo, the man with a golden tongue and never at a loss for the right words, found his courage failing and himself tongue-tied when it came to being honest about how he felt for Illya. It didn't matter that the worst that could happen was that Illya would refuse, he reasoned. He was ninety nine percent certain that the Russian would not ask for another field partner, but that one percent doubt was like a knife twisting in his side. So he did not risk it. However, this was the second injury Illya had picked up in less than three months, and Napoleon blamed himself for both.
Still holding Illya's hand, he had been absently humming aloud when he jerked out of his reverie as a detested voice registered in his meandering mind.
"I would suggest you at least get a wash, Solo."
He turned his head slowly, easing Illya's hand back to the bed and glowered at the newest addition to the medical team.
Dr Royce Mills. Even the man's name set Napoleon's teeth on edge. It was also like looking at himself over a decade younger. They were the same height and breadth. Mills' eyes were darker and his hair thicker and his face held far fewer lines than Napoleon's. There had been a few good-natured jokes about their similarity and the female staff, as well as some of the male, had looked with dreamy eyes at the newest recruit.
As far as Napoleon was concerned, Mills could have any or all of them. All save one. Illya Kuryakin.
Illya was his.
However, Mills seemed to ignore that at every opportunity. It had been bad enough in itself that a few months ago, he had been ushered away from his injured partner by the on-site and well-respected Dr Anton Rogere to clean up a bit. Anton had treated both of them more times than Napoleon could count, and allowed them the freedom to sit, at all hours, waiting for the other to regain consciousness, and Napoleon trusted him implicitly. But on his return to Illya's bedside, his friend had awakened in his absence, and it was Mills who held his hand.
Napoleon had not known that jealousy could be the cause of such a crushing sensation in a man's chest or send such sharp shards of pain into a man's heart. It had literally taken his breath away. Illya had been confused and disorientated. Napoleon had hated the soft, soothing tones that Mills had used to settle the blond. But worse still was the fact that those words were whispered in Russian. That had always been one of Napoleon's advantages. He had quickly regained his place from the would-be usurper, but had been just the start.
At every available opportunity, Mills had insinuated his presence alongside Illya's, and the blond seemed to have taken to him. The Ice Prince seemed to have thawed just enough to allow Mills to get closer than any other, save Napoleon himself, and that alone made the brunet want to throttle the doctor.
"Illya will be waking soon according to Anton. I'm staying till he's conscious," Napoleon growled. His voice brokered no negotiations over the situation.
"I could have you removed," Mills tossed casually back. "I'm sure that would look good on top of you being the reason he's here."
"He's here because he was injured in the field," Napoleon hissed dangerously.
"Because he saved you. Again," Mills shot back. "How many times are you going to jeopardise his life? Face it, Solo. You're at the end of your usefulness in the field. Let him go before you drag him down with you."
Bullets in his heart could not have hurt or crippled Napoleon more than those words. Because he felt they were true. He turned back to Illya's face, relaxed and pain-free and looking so much younger, so angelic in repose. He wanted Illya safe. Because he loved him. Why were such small words so hard to say?
"When you've worked in the field I'll have more respect for what you have to say," Napoleon ground out.
"I read your own report," Mills said, his voice both smug and accusatory. "You tripped. So much for the ace agent. Cut him loose, Solo. Cut him loose before..."
The rest of Mills' words were lost as both men turned at the sound of a discreet cough.
"I would be grateful if you would go to requisitions and order in these supplies, Dr. Mills," Anon Rogere said in a low, calm voice. "I need you to replenish the stocks in the operating suite and the Recovery room when you're done." He handed the papers to the younger man.
"Surely a nurse..." Mills began, but at the single, raised eyebrow, he stormed ungraciously to the door. Let the old men have their moment. He would be Head of Medical soon enough, and he would ensure Rogere was retired and out of his way.
As far as Mills was concerned, Napoleon Solo was a fool. Mills wanted Illya, and he would have him. It was almost too easy. Ramming home to Solo that he was responsible for Illya's injuries was the best way to force the agent to back down. With the delicious blond, it was any suggestion that he was not up to par as Solo's partner. Absently he mused that the incredible feat of shooting the sniper and shoving Solo to safety was probably as a direct result of his own insidious attacks on Illya's capabilities to protect the older man.
He did not care. All he wanted was the pale, lithe body writhing beneath him. All he had to do was get Illya away from Solo and the blond would be his for the taking. And he would take. Again and again. He gave a soft groan as he hardened. He was bedding a few men and women in the organisation and a couple outside of it. He would proposition the first of his willing bed-mates he saw to take care of his burgeoning lust. Then, when Solo was away from the luscious blond, he would mount his subtle assault on Illya once more.
Napoleon watched the exchange between older and younger medics with interest. It seemed that Anton was not as enamoured with Mills as he had thought. As Mills left, Anton's eyes rested on him.
"A good doctor," Anton said. "However, as a person he leaves much to be desired."
A soft moan had both men relegate Mills to the backs of their minds and focus on the slender blond who was slowly waking.
"'Poleon?" Illya's voice was an uncertain croak. He could not be sure his partner would be there. After all, he had failed once again. The last couple of times he had ended up like this it was to find Royce was waiting for him to awaken.
"I'm here, partner mine," Napoleon assured as he waited for the beloved blue eyes to open and focus on him.
At the sound of the warm, reassuring voice, Illya allowed his eyes to open slowly. He felt his body relax as the familiar hazel eyes, and then the rest of Napoleon's visage, came into view.
"Let me help," Napoleon added solicitously as Illya's eyes moved to the glass of ice chips that Anton placed at the blond's bedside. He raised Illya's head and spooned a couple of small chips past pink lips before easing his partner back onto his pillows. The older agent had not missed the look of uncertainty on Illya's face, and his instincts told him that Mills had been sowing doubt into his partner's mind at times when the blond was at his most vulnerable.
All he needed was five minutes alone with the medic.
"Are you alright, Napoleon?" The softly spoken question had the angry brunet quash all his feelings of anger and turn compassionate eyes to his partner.
"I'm fine, partner mine," Napoleon assured, deciding that he did not care if he sounded possessive. He let his hand briefly touch a pale cheek. "That was some stunt," he added. He frowned as Illya's face seemed to crumple.
"I'm sorry I failed."
"Look at me, Illya," he commanded softly, using his hand to cup the blond's chin. "You did not fail. We completed the mission. You saved my life and took out the sniper in a move that almost defies belief. You were amazing, Illya, and I am very glad I have you watching my back."
The words seemed to ignite something in the supine beauty. Illya's face seemed to alight, and a little vitality glowed in the Arctic blue eyes.
"Right, now it's my turn, gentlemen. Napoleon, please remain seated. You and Illya will listen to, and act upon, your Doctor's orders without complaint," Anton said. He smiled reassuringly as hazel and blue looked expectantly up at him. "We all know the drill," he continued. "You, Illya, want to leave Medical. You, Napoleon want to take him home, and I will be pleased to release Illya into your care as soon as I feel he is well enough to do so. Therefore you will take these tablets, Illya. They are a painkiller and sedative, and you will sleep for another few hours. Then you will feel a little more like attempting to eat, drink and use the bathroom. Napoleon will have time to go home, wash, shave and change and make any arrangements he needs."
Illya wanted to complain about sleeping again, but looking at Napoleon, the older man was smiling and nodding. He looked a little closer, the brunet did need to go home and clean up. The normally immaculate Napoleon Solo looked decidedly dishevelled.
"I will take them," Illya said. He accepted the assistance from Napoleon once more. "Can I go home today?" he asked around a yawn. After all, it would not do to give in too easily.
"You don't even know what today is," Napoleon replied fondly. "Rest, Illya, and I will be back soon."
"Good. That's good," the blond murmured.
As the two men watched Illya settle, the door opened and Mills re-entered. They both saw the flash of annoyance that flitted briefly across his face.
"Has Mr. Kuryakin been conscious?" he asked brusquely.
"He has, and now he's sleeping again," Anton replied amicably. "I have a few things to do, but I'll be back to check on him. Mr. Solo is going home and will duly return to collect Mr. Kuryakin. I would appreciate a word with you in my office before you leave, Mr. Solo," Anton concluded.
Sipping at the creamed coffee in Anton's office, Napoleon relaxed when he realized it was not Illya's health that Anton wanted to discuss. He looked with interest at the older man.
"I don't normally intervene in other people's lives, Napoleon, but I'm making an exception in this case," Anton said, giving the brunet a wry smile. "I did wonder if perhaps you and Illya had become a couple without divulging the information within the organisation because of Illya being such an intensely private person."
"Couple?" Napoleon almost choked on his coffee. But looking at Anton, there was only a small smile playing around the doctor's lips.
"I've seen the way you look at each other in that room," Anton said, his arm sketching a careless wave towards the door of his office. "So did Mills. When he realised you weren't an item, he seemingly decided your partner was fair game. Some of the bits of conversation I've caught suggest Mills is a very manipulative individual and takes unfair advantage of vulnerability."
"I was afraid to lose Illya," Napoleon confessed. "I worried that I'd lose his friendship and break our partnership if I overstepped the mark. I wondered if he was staying with me because he felt he had to, rather than wanted to."
The 'tsk' had him blink in surprise.
"You and I both know that Illya Kuryakin is a very intelligent man. For us to even presume he stays with you out of some sense of misguided loyalty would be insulting to that intelligence. From my perspective, Napoleon, he stays with you by choice. You know, I wasn't sure my suit would be welcomed by the love of my life, but we're coming up to our ruby anniversary in a few months," Anton added, a soft smile replacing the half-frown that had darkened the doctor's face.
"You never speak of your wife," Napoleon responded, a smile finally lighting his own saturnine features. "You must have found the right words for her."
"Him, Napoleon," Anton corrected gently. "Forty years ago, I finally let my heart do the talking. It wasn't easy, then, for us to be a couple. Times have moved on, but there are still closed minds and bigots with which to deal. I fear such will continue to be true in the future. But we love each other. We are each other's refuge when the world gets stormy. I have a suggestion," he said looking at the shocked brunet. "The organisation has a cabin that we have used a few times before."
Napoleon quickly recovered from the shock of Anton's revelation and focused on what the doctor was suggesting. When he sauntered from the room, his natural swagger was back, as was the disarming grin on his face that caused more than a couple of heads to turn.
My head keeps spinnin',
I go to sleep and keep grinnin'
If this is just the beginnin'
My life is gonna be beautiful. (Lyrics: Ain't That A Kick In The Head?)
When the world seems to shine like you've had too much wine
That's amore (Lyrics: That's Amore)
Glancing across at his partner, Napoleon still wore a large grin. In the few days since he took Illya home, the blond had perked up considerably and was healing rapidly. He had pampered Illya as often as possible, but not yet spoken about his feelings. He was waiting until they went to the cabin that Anton had suggested they visit to recover.
The helicopter was descending. There was still a hike to the cabin from the drop-off point, but Illya had insisted he could cope with the walk, as it was not an arduous one. Napoleon could see the clearing and the rocky platform where the helicopter was going to land.
A few seconds later they had landed. Napoleon unfastened his seat belt, and jumped agilely out. He grinned as he watched Illya zip up his coat and pull his woollen cap lower before joining him. As a team they unloaded their backpacks and Napoleon's fishing gear.
"I'll pick you up Monday at twelve o'clock," the pilot said. "If there's any trouble, contact us. You can reach the river from here in about fifteen minutes or so. The cabin is another forty minutes thereafter. It's a straightforward walk and there's a clear path leading there. There have been a couple of snow flurries, but nothing too heavy. The cabin is fully stocked with food and drink. Enjoy."
"Thank you," Napoleon nodded and, holding up his thumb, he ducked back as the helicopter started to take off again. He watched it soar away and disappear behind the mountain ridge. He turned to see Illya perched on a rock, his elbows on his knees, his hands supporting his chin and the sun shining on his hair. He looked like an exotic woodland sprite, and Napoleon felt he was the luckiest man on Earth.
"Ready?" Illya asked, cocking his head to one side, so that the blond hair fell like a gold, silk curtain.
"More than," Napoleon replied. He helped Illya settle the smaller backpack, and he took the larger along with the fishing rods. They had not needed to bring much.
"Tell me again why I agreed to this," Illya said with a mock put-upon tone.
"Anton recommended some time away for rest and recuperation for both of us," Napoleon smiled. "Don't worry. I have my fishing to occupy my time. I am also weighed down with the science journals you wanted to read."
"You are indeed a veritable martyr," Illya smiled back. Napoleon's care and attention over the last few days had done more to help him heal than any number of doctor's pills and potions.
They walked together in the companionable silence that came with a long-established friendship. They both glanced around, appreciating the vista surrounding them. The murmur of a stream was heard as they reached a small stone outcrop. The water was running freely in a swiftly flowing crystal-clear brook that originated from the rocks falling in a diamond-glistening flow.