Genre: Man from UNCLE
Rating: PG for mild slash
Word Count: 2720
Prompt: How about Illya helping Napoleon get in the Christmas spirit for a change?
duckys_lady, I hope this fits the bill and that you have a great Christmas. My thanks to sparky955 for her beta
Napoleon read the back of the post card and tried to smile. His aunt was having a great time in the Caribbean and he was stuck here in the cold of New York. He tried to be happy for her, but it wasn’t going to be Christmas without her.
When his aunt mentioned that she thought a Christmas cruise might be a nice change of pace, Napoleon didn’t pay much mind. After all, the chances of him being here to share it with her was next to nothing. While he usually tried his best, he missed more Christmas dinners than he made. He flipped the card over to glance at the scantily clad ladies on the front and then over again.
My dearest Napoleon,
How I wish you were here with me right now. The days are warm and the nights soft. The ship is beautifully decorated and there is one party after another. The tree in the lobby is so lovely, all silver and gold. It reminds me of our tree. I miss you, dear one. Stay safe and give my love to Illya. Amy
Napoleon sighed and set it aside. The door slid opened slowly and then stuck halfway. Illya wiggled in, glaring at the door. While that worked on junior agents, the mechanism didn’t care. He looked wet and not very happy.
“What’s wrong, Illya?” Napoleon tried to sound interested, but he wasn’t. It was a week until Christmas and there wasn’t a speck of snow in the city. It was cold, rainy, and miserable and everyone’s health was suffering as a result.
“Any chance Mr. Waverly is sending us to Greece or France this week? As much as I complain otherwise, I could use some warmth right now.” Illya coughed into his handkerchief and blew his nose. Napoleon had to agree that Illya looked completely miserable. He held open his arms. Illya shot a glance at the door, then apparently decided it was worth the risk. He surged forward and into Napoleon’s embrace. “Not quite beaches of Hawaii, but still nice.”
“At least your fever is down. And to answer your question, nope. He’s using all the extra resources he can here just to keep the doors open.” Napoleon kissed Illya’s forehead and smirked at their office door. “More or less. Shouldn’t you still be home?”
“It was strongly suggested to me that if I could stay conscious, I should be here.” Illya reluctantly pulled out of the embrace. They tried to keep physical contact to a professional minimum while at headquarters. “Do you know they have Bradford manning the reception desk?”
“Scary, huh?” Napoleon used his own handkerchief to catch his cough. “Wait until you see who they have running the Canteen.”
“Worse than that, April. Skilled agent, not as equally cunning in the kitchen.”
Illya took a deep breath, slowly and carefully to keep from coughing. “I think going out is the only path we have open to us.”
“Take it.” Mark Slate had worked his way through the half-open door. “Is this a new take on an open-door policy?” He turned his head and barely managed to get his handkerchief out in time for his sneeze.
“Yeah, me, too.” Mark walked to the very uncomfortable couch in the office and flopped down. He looked too miserable to even notice how awful the cushions were. “Airport is closed due to flooded runways. Canada is picking up our slack. In the meantime, we are closed for business. What THRUSH couldn’t do, the flu could and did.” Wisely, Mr. Waverly had been sent packing to another office. At his age, it was smarter to run than fight.
“And London and Hong Kong. How come they don’t get sick?” Illya grumbled, “It should be against the law to be sick at this time of the year.” When it became apparent that they had lost his partner’s attention, Illya asked, “Napoleon?”
Napoleon looked back up from his aunt’s card and passed it over for Illya to read. “Oh, Amy is in Jamaica and having a wonderful time.”
“Good for her.” Illya passed it back and looked over at Mark. “It’s a little funny, though. Here we are all stuck in New York and she’s gone. It’s usually the other way around, especially now at Christmas.”
“Who cares? It’s just another day.” Napoleon stood and forced the doors open then walked out.
For a long moment, neither remaining man said a word.
“Wow, you weren’t kidding.” Mark’s cold was magically gone, as was Illya’s. “I thought you were exaggerating.”
“I haven’t seen him this low ever before. Usually he’s the life of the party. I couldn’t even get him to go out and get a tree.”
“Just because his aunt’s traveling?”
“Partially, but lots of other things, too. He’s really missing his folks. And add to it not feeling well and the lousy weather and New York can be a cold, dark place.”
“But what can we do?”
Illya shook his head and walked to Napoleon’s desk. “Well, first, let’s see what we can do with there. Here, you take this stack and I’ll take this one.”
“These are progress reports, Illya.”
“I know. Just sign NS at the bottom and no one will be the wiser. I know I can trust you to keep anything you see to yourself. And don’t worry, I’ve got the problem ones.”
Mark held up one hand and place the other over his heart. “Spy’s honor.”
“If only we had any honor to begin with.”
Napoleon shuffled back to his desk, not looking forward to the paperwork, but hungry, once again, for the familiar scrawl of his aunt’s handwriting. The door was shut and slid open upon his approach. At least something was working right around here. He’d gone to check out Section Three and they were in worse shape than they were. He entered, prepared to listen to another bout of coughing sneeze from his partner, but instead their shared office was empty. More importantly, so was his in box and the top of his desk. Well, nearly empty.
Amy’s post card was propped up against a glass of milk and there was a brightly decorated cookie beside it.
“What on Earth?” He picked up the cookie and inhaled. His own cold was retreated enough that he could smell it. Then he saw the note.
Ho, Ho, Ho!
The note was unsigned and Napoleon didn’t recognize the handwriting. It was too sloppy for Illya’s precise hand. Still, he wasn’t the sort of man who looked a gift cookie in the mouth. Sitting down, he broke it in half and looked over at Illya’s empty desk and proceeded to dunk it into the milk.
For just a moment, he was in his mother’s kitchen, snow flurries outside, warm happiness inside. He closed his eyes, clutching to the memories, but they slipped away with the last bite of cookie and he was, again, in rain-weary New York inside the cold impersonal walls of UNCLE HQ. He reached for the post card and sighed. Christmas was further away than ever now.
The next morning he arrived and there was a candy cane on his desk… and Illya’s, too. The candy cane was decorated with a set of pipe cleaner antlers and googly eyes. Napoleon smiled.
“What on earth…?”
Illya entered. He looked a bit better. “I was going to ask you the same thing.”
“Well, it has to be someone in the building.”
Napoleon smiled and hung the cane off the side of his inbox.
“Here you can have mine, too. I don’t care for peppermint as of late.” He made a face. “Too much peppermint tea.”
“Okay.” He put Illya’s beside his. “Now he has a friend. You look like you are feeling better.”
“I am. And you?”
“Okay, just… you know.”
“I do. By the way, do you have any plans for Christmas?”
“No, I waited too long. Everything was booked and wait listed by the time I knew we were going to be in town. With this cold, It’s probably just as well.”
“Well, perhaps we should do something on our own,” Illya suggested casually, as if he didn’t know that any plans Napoleon might make would include him.
“I’d like that, but what?”
“Why don’t you leave the arrangements to me? Pick me up at seven Christmas Eve?”
“I can do that.” That made Napoleon smile. At least a bit of intrigue seemed to liven him up when the Christmas spirit didn’t. “I can’t wait to see what you wrangle.”
The rest of the day passed in some sort of holiday blur. Every time Napoleon left his desk, he came back to something. He was sure it was Illya, but then he and Illya went to lunch together and Napoleon came back to a small ceramic Christmas tree on his desk.
With a laugh, he plugged it in and sat down, the lights giving him a colorful face. “Illya, look at this! Amy had one like this…” Then his mood soured and he went quiet again. Illya walked to his desk and squatted down. He reached up to brush Napoleon’s jawline with his fingers.
“You really miss her, don’t you?”
A deep sigh. “For a long time, she’s been all the family I’ve had here. She has always been the party giver and I just cruised through life, taking her up on her invitation, then bailing at the last minute. With her out of town now, it makes me realize what I put her through. And it made me realize that our time together is finite and drawing to a close.”
“She seems pretty healthy to me and sixty three isn’t that old.”
“I know, but… well, not just her, but us, too.”
“I don’t understand and I want to.” Illya’s brow creased and he cupped Napoleon’s cheek.
“It used to be so much easier to just dash out and save the world, but, lately, it’s gotten harder. Field work is starting to lose its charm.”
“Because of the danger?”
“Because of you, of us.” Napoleon smiled slightly and closed his eyes at Illya’s touch. “It used to be that I couldn’t wait for the phone to ring, for Waverly to send for us. It meant another glorious adventure, but now I dread it because it means I might lose you.”
“Napoleon, you and I, we are men of action. This is what we were born to do, what we trained hard to become.”
“I know and I can’t see myself doing anything else, but, well, there you have it.”
Illya stood, then bent over to kiss Napoleon, properly and deeply. When he broke the kiss, he said, “I will be careful.”
“Thank you.” Another sigh. Napoleon unplugged the tree and pushed it aside. “I need some coffee.”
“I’ll go. I need to check on a couple of things at the lab anyhow.”
“’Kay.” Napoleon returned to his paperwork, but his mind drifted away to happier times. Days of when the snow was deep and his sled was the fastest in town. He’d chase his sister around and put snow down her neck. He remembered getting punished for making an anatomically correct snowman. Life was easy and everything seems wrapped in a thick warm blanket of love. Suddenly, everything dissolved, running down the drain like rainwater, washing away his happiness.
He blinked and looked around. Christmas music was softly playing through the overhead speakers and Illya was at his desk, fingers of one hand tangled in his hair.
“Did you have a nice nap?” Illya sat back and took off his glasses. He stretched his back.
“You’ve been asleep for over an hour.”
He picked up his cup of ice cold coffee and sipped making a face. “You should have woken me.”
“You obviously needed the sleep and it’s not like anything is happening here. Why don’t you take off?”
“What about you?”
“Just a few more things and I’m done.”
“Go! Go find some Christmas cheer.”
Napoleon made a face and stood, grimacing at the hitch in his back, yet another reminder of his not getting any younger. “Okay, I guess I will. I’m off tomorrow, so I will see you at your place at seven.”
Illya nodded, “Stay dry out there. It’s really coming down again.”
“I guess no one told them it’s supposed to snow in December.”
Napoleon stood in the doorway of Illya’s building and checked his watch again. He’d arrived much too early. Usually that wouldn’t have been a problem, but for some reason tonight it seemed wrong to burst in on him. Instead, he watched the families coming and going, arms filled with packages and gifts, squealing at they tried to stay dry on their way to the bus stop or the subway.
Finally, the minute hand crawled to the eleven and Napoleon permitted himself to go in and begin the climb up to Illya’s apartment. No one, except the most foolhardy trusted the elevator, so he took the stairs.
There was a sign on the door, inviting him to use his key. Napoleon frowned, but entered. Illya looked up from the table where a series of dishes were set out.
“Finally. I wondered how long you were going to stand out there. I nearly came down and got you myself.”
“One of my neighbors spotted a nice, but glum-looking young man standing there. I knew it had to be you.”
That’s when Napoleon actually saw Illya’s apartment. There was a nicely decorated tree in one corner with various gifts piled beneath it. There were many lit candles scattered about and soft holiday jazz played on the stereo.
“Illya, when did you do all of this?”
“Last couple of days. It’s amazing how cheap trees get this late in the season. The ornaments, I confess, are yours. You really need a better security system.”
“Like that would stop you. This is incredible.”
“And best of all.” Illya pointed upward. Napoleon tilted his head back and smiled up at the mistletoe. They stood there, locked in a tight embrace, their kisses growing more and more frantic.
“Everything okay on the stove?”
“I have a stove?” They managed to get to the bed, ripping clothes off as they went. The world was such a big empty place, but for the moment, it was very small and very full. Hands clutched and caressed, mouths spoke without words, Napoleon arched in Illya’s embrace, his climax hard and soul-shattering and far too soon. Illya followed a heartbeat later and they collapsed on the bed, panting and spent.
Illya kissed Napoleon’s fingers, “I cannot promise to always come back to you, but know that I will do everything in my power to. You won’t be alone, Napoleon, I swear you won’t.” The telephone rang at that point and Illya looked startled. “I didn’t know that thing worked.”
“Must be work.”
“They’d use a secure line. It’s on your side. Answer it?”
Napoleon rolled over, wincing as he hit a cold wet spot. “Hello.”
“Hello, my love.”
Napoleon started to grin at the sound of his aunt’s voice. “Amy, how are you? How’s the cruise? And why are you calling my partner?” To Illya, he said, “Illya, it’s Amy!”
“Well, there’s been a bit of an upset. Everyone on the ship was getting sick and Stella and I were just sitting in our cabin trying to figure out what to do. Then Illya called and we decided to fly home early. I wondered if you and your charming partner would be free for Christmas dinner tomorrow.”
“What? That would be great, but what can we do to help? I mean, everything is closed now.”
“It’s amazing how quickly doors open when you have ready cash, my dear nephew. I will expect the two of you at three. We can sing carols, eat cookies and drink eggnog until we are goofy. Oh, I love Christmas!”
“We’ll be there! We’ll be there. Amy?”
“Don’t thank me, thank Illya. Hold on to that young man, Napoleon. He’s quite special.”
“He sure is.” Napoleon looked over at his grinning partner as he hung up. “He sure is.”
And outside, the rain turned to snow.