Word count: 1753
Prompt: Napoleon's and Illya's first Christmas as a couple
Nakeisha, you were one of my first friends here, so I am delighted to offer you this story as your Christmas gift. I hope you enjoy it!
At first Illya didn’t understand what the big deal was. Of course he knew that his partner was crazy about Christmas. It hadn’t taken very long for him to suspect. Come around the end of October, Napoleon would start humming carols, although Illya didn’t recognize them as such. Over the years, he became familiar with them. Then he would start introducing odd phrases into daily conversations:
“Have you been a good boy?”
“Hmm, naughty or nice?”
“Ho, ho, ho!”
Then came the Macy’s Day parade and it was game over as far as Illya was concerned. Once Napoleon saw Santa in the parade, it was goodbye any sense of propriety and hello, Christmas. This only became worse when they became a couple. Next would be the decorations, the cards, the parties, the cookies and the shopping. That was the worst. Napoleon smugly declared the closet in the guest room as off limits and left Illya in a tailspin.
Illya sat at a table in the Canteen and rolled that word over in his mouth. That he’d been attracted to Napoleon physically was a gimme, as April would say. What he didn’t realize was that the feeling was mutual. Illya had assumed that Napoleon was a dedicated skirt chaser, but his partner had fooled him, just as he had so many others.
Illya just thanked his lucky stars for a night of twisted misunderstanding that has resulted in the two of them in each other’s arms. Illya was quite content to stay right there for the rest of his life. That Napoleon was not only willing but capable of a monogamous relationship was the next big surprise.
“Penny for your thoughts, mister.” April set her tray down and Illya frowned. On it was a small bowl of something white, cottage cheese, he assumed, a wilted bit of celery, and a glass of water.
“Surely that’s not all you are going to eat?”
“Too much celebrating over Thanksgiving, I’m afraid. Everything is getting tight and a girl needs her wiggle room, especially on New Year’s Eve.” She picked up the spoon and dipped it into the cottage cheese. She put the spoonful in her mouth and closed her eyes.
“It’s that good?” Illya’s tone was dubious.
“No, but my imagination is. I’m savoring a nice juicy steak.” She swallowed. “So what are you getting Napoleon for Christmas?”
This was always tricky, for Napoleon didn’t need any more ties, tie tacks, cuff links, or aftershave. His bevy of female admirers took care of that. “I hadn’t really given it much thought. Maybe a new shirt…”
“Well, you better start thinking. You need this year’s gift to be special.”
“Because it’ll be your first one together.” April was one of the few who knew, but only because she caught them mid-grapple one afternoon. Rather than giving her some song and dance, they just told her the truth. It had gone no farther. “It needs to be special and unique.”
“Then I am truly mystified.”
“Illya, you know him better than anyone else alive. This should be easy.”
“Rather it’s because I know him so well that the task is complicated.” Illya’s tongue found something in one of his back teeth and began to work on it. “Maybe some new socks.”
“Illya Kuryakin, you are impossible.” Several heads at nearby tables turn in their direction and Illya smiled. More fuel for the gossip mill. She lowered her voice and leaned in close. “Come on, think!”
“I have thought. As an agent, it doesn’t pay to get too dragged down by material items.”
“Then get him something immaterial. Something he can use, but not have to haul around.”
“Like food?” He gestured to his empty tray.
April sighed and turned her attention to the celery. It didn’t even have any crunch left and surrendered quietly to its fate. “I don’t believe you.”
Illya began to sense that perhaps, just perhaps, he’d underestimated the circumstances without realizing it.
Napoleon poked his head from beneath the sheets and Illya chuckled. “Knucklehead.”
“Is that any way to treat a man who’s given you the best years of your life?”
“Well, perhaps the best ten minutes.” Illya grinned at Napoleon’s expression and used the moment to dip in for a fast kiss. “So, tell, me what do you want for Christmas, Napoleon?”
Napoleon pulled Illya down onto him. “I have what I want.”
“I’m very hard to wrap and don’t go well with ribbons of any kind.” Napoleon’s hand began to stroke Illya’s abdomen.
“Oh, I don’t know. You tied spread eagle on the bed is a mighty appealing image at the moment.”
“So I can feel.” Napoleon’s erection jabbed into Illya’s side. “I’m being serious.”
“How do you know I’m not?”
“Because we get tied up far too much in the course of an average day to consider it playtime.” Illya’s hand found its goal and Napoleon’s eyes drifted shut in ecstasy. “I refuse to be tied up on my own time.”
“Sorry. Then I can’t help you. What about you?”
Illya’s hand stilled. “I fear my answer is the same as yours. I have everything I want.”
“Well, there has to be something under the tree come Christmas morning. Now are you going to do something with that hand or am I going to have to get tough with you?”
Illya smirked and the moment was gone as they became distracted with each other.
However, the problem remained and inspiration wasn’t Illya’s friend. He could stop a coup, save a foreign diplomat, or head off a war, but he could not figure out what to get Napoleon. His concern grew as the pile of gifts did.
He found a nice shoulder holster that he bought and wrapped, but it seemed impersonal. He bought a new watch and had it outfitted with the latest gizmos that Section Eight had come up with, but that seemed more self-serving.
Illya was sipping lukewarm coffee and purposefully ignoring the accounting forms from their last assignment. Napoleon was working on a roster and sighing… a lot.
“Napoleon, what is wrong?” Illya gave his chair a push towards Napoleon’s desk. He loved that it had wheels. “Are you having trouble with assignments?”
“Hmm? What?” Napoleon seemed to wake from a dream. “I’m sorry, Illya. My mind is elsewhere.”
“That I can tell. Is there something I can do?” He nodded to the clipboard.
“What? Oh, no, it’s done. There will be some unhappy people come Christmas Eve,”
“No, you won’t. You have worked every Christmas and New Year’s since you started here. This year, I insist you have it off.”
“You insist?” Illya smiled slightly.
“I insist. No arguments.” Napoleon added a shaking finger to stress his point and Illya grabbed it.
“All right, since you are insisting.” Illya gave the finger a squeeze and released it. “So what is distressing you so if not the duty roster?”
“Oh, I got a notice that they are raising the slip fees again.”
Illya frowned. “Excuse me, Napoleon, but there are still some parts of American life that puzzle me. They charge for women’s underwear and why is this a problem for you?”
“Boat slips, Poosycat. The place where I berth the Pursang has raised its fee again. It’s practically doubled in the last three years. It’s getting to the point where it would be cheaper just to get rid of the boat and rent something. It’s not like I have any time to take it out.”
“But you love that boat, Napoleon.”
“I know. Still I have until the end of January to make my decision. You ready to go grab something to eat?”
“Always.” Illya smiled, although it was not at the thought of food.
“It’s a family tradition,” Napoleon explained as he handed a box to Illya. “We always celebrate with one gift on Christmas Eve.”
Illya’s eyes were barely open after their bout of love making. “I thought that’s what you just gave me.”
“No, but I’ll remember that for next year.” Napoleon attempted to smooth his mussed hair, but it was having none of that.
Illya sat up and reached for his robe. “Then I suppose I should give you one as well.” He made a great pretense of searching the tree before stopping at a small box nestled in among the ornaments. “I suppose this one will do.”
“You first.” Napoleon sat back and reached for the wine bottle. He emptied it equally into their glasses and watched as Illya carefully removed the festive wrapping. “Any guesses?”
“None.” Illya pulled off the top and made a small noise. There was a towel, thick and blue, with his initials monogrammed in it. “My own towel?”
“Now maybe you will stop coveting mine.” It was true that Illya loved Napoleon’s Turkish towel to wrap up in after a bath.
“Thank you, Napoleon. I will wear it with pride.”
“And I will remove it with vigor.” Napoleon waggled his eyebrows and Illya laughed.
Napoleon shook the box. “Cuff links?”
“Like you need more cuff links.” Illya knew the cuff links he was giving Napoleon were hidden in his stocking.
“A tie tack, then?”
“So close and yet, so very far off.”
Napoleon slipped the ribbon off and opened the box. “You gave me a receipt?”
“I did. Look at it closely.”
“It looks like… Oh, Illya, you didn’t. I can’t let you do this.”
Illya smiled. “It’s already done and you will not have to worry about berthing the Pursang for at least a year now.”
“Thank you. This is perfect.”
“You’re a hard man.”
Napoleon glanced down. “Well, not exactly, but give me another few minutes.”
Illya shook his head fondly at his partner. “That’s not what I mean. You are hard to shop for, but I knew you would appreciate that and it would mean that you might not have to borrow quite so much money from me in the new year.” He leaned in for a kiss.
“The best gift you could give me you already have.” Napoleon pulled Illya closely. “Stay with me?”
“For as long as I’m able. This I promise you.”
Then bathed in twinkling lights, the scent of pine and the crackling of the fire, two men celebrated the season by giving the most precious gift that they had to give – their hearts.