Genre: very mild slash
Word count: 1442
The photo prompt:
He was close, so close that he could hear the crackle of the fire. The sand dune kept him safely hidden from view. He’d never tried two men before, but these two, so isolated on the beach. It was as if they were asking for it and perhaps this would quiet the voice in his head – the one demanding he kill or be killed. He just wanted it to stop.
“This is nice.” Napoleon leaned back against Illya’s legs and tipped his head back. In front of him, the campfire was happily crackling away. “Mr. Waverly was a genius to make something like this available to us.”
“Who would know better what his agents need to unwind? No phones, no worries, just us, nature, peace and quiet.” Illya stared into the fire. He loved watching the flames as they flickered and wavered about. Even the waves had quieted and were softly lapping the shore. The fingers of one hand fondled Napoleon’s already tousled hair. “You should wear your hair like this more often.”
“I suspect Mr. Waverly might not quite agree with you. He likes his agents to have some sense of decorum, present company excepted, of course.”
“Of course.” Illya glanced around. “I do believe we are the only people on the beach.”
“Well, it is October and it’s not exactly warm out here.”
“Nonsense, we have a good fire and suitable clothes, it’s a perfect night for being out here.”
“And then there’s the current murder spree that has kept people at bay?”
“Murder spree? And you didn’t think to mention this until now?”
He caught his breath. They knew of him. No matter, when the killing lust was upon him he had the strength to do what was demanded of him. He would wait until something split them. Perhaps the call of Nature or one getting tired. At some point they would separate and then he would claim his prize and with it, a bit of peace.
“I wonder how long people have been looking into the depths of the fires for the mysteries of life.” Illya poked the rapidly-declining flames with a long stick. “I think this wood had just about had it.”
“Is that a subtle hint to get more wood on the fire?”
“Not really, but if you are offering…”
Napoleon sat up with a grunt and reached for a piece of wood the thickness of his arm. While he could appreciate the romance of a fire, he also appreciated the feelings of a warm hard body in his arms. He had no intention of spending all night waiting for the wood to burn down. Something caught his radar then and he looked around into the night.
“Good, I’m glad you didn’t grab one of the bigger logs,” Illya said as Napoleon added the wood to the flames. “I have plans for you later.”
“Right there with you.”
“So, tell me more about this supposed killing spree.” Illya said, as Napoleon settled back into his arms, offering him a glass of wine and then pouring another for himself. Illya waited until Napoleon had a sip and then nudged him with a knee. “The details?”
“Sorry, don’t really know much beyond the basic. In the last month and a hold, fourteen people have been found slaughtered in the area.”
“You are a trained UNCLE agent and I do believe more than capable of defending yourself.”
“That’s the rumor.”
This would be hard. Perhaps he should spare them and find someone else, someone easy. The voice in his head raged otherwise. It had to be these two, they were the next to be offered up.
Then Napoleon stopped and tipped his head sideways. “How odd. I swear I just saw a face in the flames.”
His heart clutched. Perhaps this burden would be taken from him.
Illya chuckled. “There is an old Russian fable about such a thing.”
“Oh!” Napoleon clutched his heart in mock surprise and looked back over his shoulder, smirking. “I can’t believe it! Imagine that!”
“Shut up,” Illya demanded playfully and went for Napoleon’s ribs. The man wiggled in his embrace and laughed. “Just for that, I won’t tell you.”
“Right, like that’s going to happen.” He twisted enough to gather a kiss. “Rave on, my blond madman.”
“His name is Topek, don’t ask me why. It’s not very Russian sounding.”
“Possibly. It was my gypsy family who first told it to me. He appears to people in the flames of a fire and enslaves them. There is no escapes until someone captures Topek.”
Like him. No escape. No hope.
“A face in the fire? How does one go about doing that?”
“That’s the whole point – you can’t. Back in my little village, there was a man who went on a killing spree. Finally, he was caught in the act of brutally slaughtering a family. He’d gutted them like you would an animal and hung them up. Being about seven--”
“They couldn’t keep you away.”
“I had nightmares for a week after.”
“What happened to the killer? Was he brought to trial?”
“No. He didn’t live long enough. He committed a fair imitation of Hari Kari, although I didn’t know it at the time. We all rested a bit easier after that, but I think I avoided fires for the next few months. I think Papa knew why, but he said nothing”
“So I’m going on a killing spree, am I?”
“Not unless you locked eyes with it.”
“Can’t say that I did.”
“I did,” he wanted to cry out to them. “I saw it and I stared and I was lost. I’m sorry,” he whispered. He wiped the sweat from his face. Separate, he thought. Break up and leave. He couldn’t kill them together; they were so happy with one another.
“So how do I capture it now?”
“Photograph it, I would suppose. Hardly a Kodak moment and the chances of that happen are next to none, but we’ll have a nice keepsake.”
Napoleon laughed aimed the camera and took several photos in succession. He returned the camera to the blanket and finished his wine. “You about ready to come up?”
“Start without me.”
“Not a chance.” Napoleon stood and offered him a hand up.
This was his chance. They’d separate and he’d… he’d what? He couldn’t remember what he was supposed to do. Why was he here? He shivered in the dark and wondered. What had he done?
Illya stood and tossed a bucket of water over the flames, killing them. “Your place or mine?”
“How about ours?”
What had he done?
“Hey, Mr. S, got your photos back!” The Section Three guy tossed Napoleon a thick envelope and Napoleon frowned. “Oh and Mandy sends you hugs and kisses.” Another sealed envelope was passed over.
“Photos?” Then he snapped his fingers. It had only been a couple of days ago, but it seemed much longer. They’d come back to a mess, as usual. “Thanks, Jerry. Could you let Sam and Riley know that we will need to call a section meeting? This Bangkok thing is out of hand.” They developed the more personal ones, but he’d taken a good share of just regular touristy type photos, partially as a cover and partially because he wanted a record of their long weekend together.
He carried them back to his desk and spread them out. One caught his eye almost immediately. “Oh my God.”
Illya came into the office, then. “Hey, Napoleon, Mr. Waverly is wondering if we’ve heard from Bangkok yet. I thought the last communique went to translations an hour ago.”
“Um, yeah, Mandy just sent it back up. Illya, take a look at this.”
“What’s wrong?” Oh, you got photos back.” Illya pulled his glasses from his shirt pocket and put them on to look at the one Napoleon held out to him. “Wow, that’s a great shot of the fire.” He passed it back, but Napoleon didn’t take it.
“Don’t you see it? The face?”
“Face?” Illya squinted and turned the photo this way and that. “No, not really.”
Napoleon flipped the photo of the glaring face in the fire over. “Yeah, me either.”
“And this came in. I guess they fished a man’s body out of the ocean not far from where we stayed. They say they think it was the mastermind behind all those killings.”
“He suddenly developed a conscience?”
“Guess so. In the note they found on the beach, he confessed to everything and then thanked two men, who were supposed to have been his victims, from freeing him.”
Illya tapped the photo. “Us.”