spikesgirl58 (spikesgirl58) wrote,
spikesgirl58
spikesgirl58

A new Foothills and the closing of a chapter...

Title: Rock and Roll Band
Genre Man from UNCLE - Foothills, slash
Rating: pg-13
Word count: 4770

When I wrote, Does Your Mother Know You’re Out? I never dreamed the path it would take me. Now 116 fics and two off-shoots later, I have achieved my goal of writing one piece of fiction for every ABBA title that there was.

This does not mean the series is over, merely that the titles will probably be a bit more related to their contents. Thank you for hanging with us and Happy New Year!



Napoleon fought to stay in the lingering twilight between sleep and wakefulness. He wasn’t quite ready to crawl from his warm cocoon of blankets and face the day. In his dreams, he was young and able. He was able to run and leap, drink and dance and still be ready for some horizontal mambo.

With a soft moan, he cracked open one eye and looked at the clock. It sort of danced in and out of focus for a few seconds and finally settled.

Eight a.m. I need to get going, he thought and shifted slightly. To his left, he caught sight of his partner and lover, Illya Kuryakin. Even in this bit of light that wiggled their way around the curtain edges, Illya looked gray. He was still fully clothed, not even bothering to toe off his shoes. His chef’s jacket was stained and spotted from a busy night in Taste’s kitchen.

Poor guy. Napoleon didn’t bother being careful or quiet. Nothing short of a full marching band could wake the man. At least it was Monday and Illya could sleep the day away. Napoleon bent over, and unplugged the phone extension on the bedside table and headed for the bathroom.

He shaved, washed up, and pulled on some sweatpants and a sweatshirt. Lastly, he sat on the edge of the bed to put on some thick socks. He knew the floor downstairs would be cold. He glanced over, but Illya hadn’t changed positions. His sleep was so deep that his chest barely moved. Napoleon couldn’t remember the last time he’d been that tired. Certainly, it was BJ – before Jackson.

Napoleon only got halfway down before he was greeted by a cacophony of demanding meows. Brunir, Roux, and Fremir all let him know how lousy the service was in this dump. He ignored them long enough to stack some logs in the fireplace and get it going. Illya liked to keep the upstairs cold, but downstairs, Napoleon preferred things toasty warm.

Above the kitchen door hung a sign, Nellam mia casa, nessuno va affamato. Napoleon instinctively translated it - in my house, no one goes hungry. That was certainly true of Illya. No one ever went hungry in his house, his restaurant or his little town. He was an advocate for feeding the hungry, organizing food drive and providing meals for anyone who needed them.

Except Napoleon couldn’t remember the last time Illya had actually done that. Mostly now he just threw money or food at someone and told them to make it happen. Napoleon smiled at the memory of Taste opening to feed the hungry on Thanksgiving and Illya standing there, slicing the turkey for every upraised plate. This year, he was too busy, but had sent along several smoked turkeys.

Napoleon fed the cats and glanced over at the sink. It was filled with dirty dishes and glasses. Illya was simply too busy. He pushed up the cuffs of his sweatshirt and turned the water on. It took a minute for it to warm up, but then he plugged the sink and filled it soapy water. That accomplished, he turned on the coffee and washed dishes while it perked.

There was a gentle knock at the kitchen door and Napoleon glanced over.

“Come on in, it’s open.” A moment later, Rocky entered, his shoulders and hat lightly dusted with snow. “Is it snowing again?”

“It is. I’m glad we’re closed. I’d hate for our patrons to brave the roads.”

“What about the party tomorrow night?”

“That’s all right. If it gets too bad, we’ll just throw down bedding and sleep on the floor. We’ve done that before. Most of the locals know how to drive in this stuff. I worry about the out of towners.” Rocky carefully took off his jacket and hat and shook them out the door.

“You mean the Sacramento folks?” It boggled Napoleon’s mind that people would drive this far for a job.

“Yup, all to put that they have worked at a five-star facility. And they squeeze our people out of a job by sheer experience.” Rocky took off his boots and padded across the kitchen in his socks. He plopped down into a chair as Napoleon dried off his hands.

“Coffee?”

“Please.”

Napoleon poured out two mugs worth and carried them carefully to the table, being mindful of where the cats were. There was already sugar on the table and Napoleon knew Rocky drank his black. For a long moment, they just sat there, not talking, just being happy with each other’s company.

“So, what’s going on, my friend? You seem worried.” Napoleon ventured as he got up to retrieve some sweet rolls from the pantry. They were store bought. He couldn’t remember the last time Illya baked something just for them.

He set the package down and Rocky sighed. “That’s what’s going on.” He shook his head, his close-cropped hair glistening in the light.

“I remember when your hair was nearly as long as Illya’s.”

“The days of the mullet.” Rocky opened the package and offered it to Napoleon. “When was the last time Chef made something for you?”

“Months or maybe it just seems that way. He’s always so busy with the restaurant that I don’t want to bother him and I’m getting better with my baking skills. That class I took helped a lot.”

“Because Chef didn’t have time to teach you.”

“He would if I asked, but he’s--”

“Always so busy with Taste.” Rocky finished in unison. “Same with Mattie. He never stops except to sleep. He actually was crying last night he was so tired.”

“What did he say when you asked him about it?”

“I… uh… didn’t. He thought I was asleep.” Rocky pinched the bridge of his nose. “Remember when the restaurant used to be fun?”

“I remember the first time I walked into the kitchen. Matt was singing some ABBA song and you were dancing.” Napoleon smiled. “Henry and Rand were laughing about something and Illya was at the stove. I remember feeling envious about how close you all seemed.”

“What happened, Mr. S?”

“Success, I suppose.” He got up and retrieved the coffee pot. “And those.” He nodded to the small tattoo Rocky had on his arm.

Rocky looked at it balefully. “And those.”

Napoleon glanced at the clock. “I’m heading over to Vinea. Want to come? I can promise more coffee.”

“Sure. You aren’t closed?”

“This is a big shopping day for us. I am hoping to get everyone out by five, though.”

Rocky slapped his hands together. “Let’s do it.”

***

Illya struggled to wake up. He felt as if a great weight was dragging him down and yet he fought against it. He didn’t want to let go of sleep, but his bladder was telling him that now was the time.

Somehow, through a herculean effort he got to his feet and staggered to the bathroom. He was too weary to even stand for that and collapsed down on the toilet.

Brunir wandered in to stare disapprovingly. “Hey, I don’t tell you how to use your cat box,” Illya muttered and sighed as the pressure from his bladder was relieved. He stood, flushed and washed his hands. Then pausing to swallow some aspirin he dragged himself back to bed.

He glanced at the clock, squinting slightly until the blurry numbers settled into place.

“Ten,” he muttered. “I should get up.” He remembered that it was Monday, his day off. Usually he would just sleep it away, a habit he’d developed as of late, but it was two days before Christmas. He had shopping to do, wrapping, baking… his mind swirled and without meaning to, he sank back into the bed linens. His eyes closed again and he drifted away.

****

Napoleon wiped a bit of mustard from his fingers and patted his stomach. He knew they were going to be busy today and when he heard that there was weather headed their way, he knew the best course was to have a local cafe cater. Suzie’s did great breakfasts and even better lunches. They created a spread that was worthy of Taste and Napoleon’s employees seconded that opinion. Five years ago, Taste would have been catering, but it didn’t do that any longer. There wasn’t time.

Napoleon was amazed at how packed his little store was and yet everyone was in a good mood, laughing and chatting with neighbors and friends as they waited with their purchases.

He hadn’t intended to open the wine bar, but suddenly it was and Rocky was pouring, explaining this or that about the various local wines. Napoleon slipped behind the counter.

“Rocky, my boy, did you have something to eat?”

“Not yet, Mr. S.” He poured a measured amount of wine into a glass and pushed it towards an older woman. She looked like she needed a bit of holiday cheer. “Now, try this one against the one you just had.”

“I don’t know why.” She sipped and her eyes grew round and Rocky grinned.

“That’s why. Good, isn’t it?”

“How could something be the same color and taste so different?” She drained her glass and looked hopefully at the bottle.

“I’ll take over from here, Rocky.” Napoleon poured more into her glass and helped him to some as well. “It all has to do with the grapes, my dear.”



He was rinsing some glasses when the power flicked and he made a face. Foot traffic had dropped considerably and there were just a few people in the store. Shutting off the water, he dried his hands and walked to the front of Vinea. “Ladies and gentlemen, I regret to say that Vinea is closing.” He paused for the responding groans of protest. “I’m afraid we are about to lose power and that means we all need to head for our homes and put another log on the fire.”

The power held out for about five minutes after the last customer escaped and the money was safely tucked away in the safe.

Gillian lowered the grates over the windows and then closed the curtains. “It’s really coming down out there, Mr. Solo.”

“Then you need to scamper home.” Thankfully, the girl only lived a few streets away. Napoleon handed her a prepacked wine bag and smiled. “Merry Christmas, Gillian. I hope we will see you tomorrow night.”

“I’ll try.” Her answering smile was wane.

“This keeps up, you know the Sacramento folks won’t be here.” There was no love for the out-of-towners than stole jobs away from locals. With that, she hugged him.

“Then I will be. We have to support each other and Chef.”

“Thank you.” He watched her clear the parking lot and turned back to the store. It was still now and Napoleon thought looked a bit sad. While Taste always seemed relieved when the last person left, his store was the opposite. It loved people and seemed to drag them in from the street. He locked the door, turned off the lights, a precaution for when the power did come back on, and headed for the back, more from memory than anything else.

There was a small flashlight by the door and he clicked it on. The food had been packed up and much of it taken, but there was still plenty for him. He tidied up a bit, made sure the safe was locked, grabbed his platter of food and headed home.

The house was cold and dark when he arrived. It was barely light enough to see anything and Napoleon set the tray of food down and headed for the back porch. In a small protected box sat their generator. He clicked it over, primed it and started it up. Most of the noise was muffled by its box and by the time he got back into the house, it was nearly impossible to hear it.

He clicked on the kitchen light and three cats scattered. A few bits of meat had been pulled from the now uncovered platter.

“Really? Really? Your bowls are full and you have to do this? It’s not too late for Santa to take back your gifts, you know.” The cats studied him, wary but cautiously disinterested, as if they knew Santa graded on the scale.

He cleaned up the purloined food, chopping it into small bits and dividing it evenly between three plates. The rest he slipped into the refrigerator and then felt secure enough to go and start a fire.

Napoleon turned on the tree’s lights and smiled as it made the room glow happily. Glancing up the stairs, he listened for a hint of any sound, but nothing.

He got the fire going, then went in and started to work on a tray. Thankfully, the afternoon’s bounty made the job easy. All he had to do really was arrange it and then uncork the bottle to a nice red blend. Grabbing two glasses, he added them to the tray and headed upstairs.

He gave the bedroom door a push and it opened to reveal a still-sleeping Russian. Napoleon merely shook his head and went for the bathroom. When they remodeled, he’d moved the claw foot tub downstairs and installed a Jacuzzi bath. He made sure it was big enough for two and had all the available bells and whistles. Illya grumbled at first, but he came to see the wisdoms of the jets and bubbles.

Napoleon turned on the water and began to fill the tub, setting the tray on the bathroom counter until he’d had a chance to undress and turn on the towel warmer. He also draped his old blue robe over the top of it. There was nothing better than climbing into a warm robe after a nice bath.

Napoleon paused to light some candles, a nice gentle lavender scent to embrace the bath salts he added.

He settled the tray in place and slowly climbed in, sighing as the water enveloped him. Pouring a glass of wine, he leaned back and thought about how best to approach his topic.

The bathroom door opened and Illya was standing there, still looking slightly bleary-eyed.

“Do you know what that sound does to bladders?” He made his way to the toilet.

“And good afternoon almost evening to you as well,” Napoleon said, holding up a glass of wine to him in a salute. “You know, if it wasn’t for that, you’d get no exercise at all.”

Illya’s comment was drowned out by the flush and Illya began peeling off his clothes. “Do you mind?”

“What took you so long?”

Gingerly, Illya eased into the water, hissing slightly at its temperature. He relaxed back against Napoleon and reached for his own glass. “What are we drinking?”

“A Shenandoah blend. I really like it with finger food. I don’t think it would hold up with heavier meat, though.”

Napoleon waited until Illya had had something to eat and drink and was lying back comfortably in his arms before he dared broached the subject. “Are you still awake?”

“For the most part. Can you turn the jets on?”

“I need to say something first and I don’t want you to get the way you do.”

“I have no idea what you are talking about.”

Despite the words, Napoleon felt Illya’s body tense – fight or flight. After all these years, it was still his first response. He took another drink of wine. “Just hear me out and then forget I said anything, if that’s what you truly want.”

“Napoleon, you are making me crazy. What is it?”

Napoleon took a deep breath. “I’m not sure how to approach this, so I’m just going to blurt it out.”

“Get on with it!” Illya’s voice was growing angry.

“I think you should give back your stars. It’s making you and Matt crazy and you are both exhausted. I even have some of my staff not coming to the Christmas party tomorrow because of the Sacramento employees. Not all of them, but some looked down their nose at our staff, even at Rocky. He’s really struggling with it. I think he’d be gone if it wasn’t for Matt. We have lost that family feeling and I fear we are losing Jackson. I’m seeing fewer and fewer locals in Taste and then only for special occasions. Every rock and roll band knows that it’s better to go out on top and not when everything has gone down the toilet.” Napoleon took another deep breath. “There, I’m done.”





Of all the things he expected Napoleon to say, Illya didn’t expect that. Now that it was said, Illya couldn’t disagree with anything his partner had said. It was true that he was so tired, he stumbled through the day, only coming alive in the kitchen because he had to. Matt hiding in the stockroom to cry had become a daily event and the happy atmosphere in the kitchen vanished a year ago.

He looked down at his arm. The tattoo was barely visible. All this for what? Bragging rights. Was that all that cooking was to him now.

“Illya, say something.” Napoleon’s voice was tense, concerned. Instead Illya let his body talk for him, relaxing back into Napoleon’s embrace.

“It’s just not done,” he finally murmured.

“When did that ever stop you?”

“It’s not a decision I can make.”

“But it is one that you and Matt could make. I imagine you’d lose a few employees, but I know of a dozen in town who would gladly take their places.”

“I have to admit I’ve thought about straying from the path.”

Napoleon kissed Illya’s neck “Just think about it.”

Illya turned his head slightly. “Could I just think about you instead?”

Napoleon smiled at that. “I would love it if you would.” After that, no words were needed for a very long time.



It could have been because he’d slept fourteen hours the night before, but Illya’s head was a whirlwind of activity.

He’d brought home food from Taste for dinner that night. There was no way he was letting it go to waste. What they didn’t eat, he re-imagine into something for the party. Everyone was bringing their favorite dish, but he liked to make doubly sure there was enough for anyone who attended.

In the kitchen, he flambéed two filet mignons and made a simple sauce to go with them. Duchess potatoes always tasted better reheated and these were no exception. Finally he added some al dente baby asparagus decorated with a bit of aioli mayonnaise.

Since the lights were still out, they ate in front of the fire, Napoleon, still wearing his blue robe, and Illya in his sweats. The cats were very interested, but not a scrape remained on their owners’ plates.

“That was delightful, Illya. Thank you.”

“A pleasure.” He smiled. “It actually was a pleasure.” The phone rang and he groaned. “Go away. I don’t care.”

Napoleon laughed and retrieved the handset. The cats played with the coil as he answered.

“Napoleon Solo, may I help you?”

“Hey, Mr. S. It’s me.”

Napoleon recognized Rocky’s voice. “What’s going on?”

“Did you say anything to Chef about the stars?”

“I did.”

“I did, too. What was his reaction?”

Napoleon felt his face flush warm with the memories. “I’d say he was most receptive.”

“So was Mattie. He wants to talk to Chef.”

“Okay.” He put his hand over the mouthpiece. “Illya, it’s for you. I’ll just clear. Is there any dessert?”

“Chocolate cheesecake, I think.” Illya grunted his way to his feet and limped over. His floor sitting days were rapidly drawing to a close. “Kuryakin. Oh, hey, Matt. Slow down, you’re talking too fast.”



Napoleon dipped out of the room at that point and took a good long time washing the dishes and setting the kitchen to rights while waiting for the coffee to perk. That done, he plated two pieces of cheesecake, poured coffee, and paused by the door. There was no noise, so he figured it was safe to re-enter. He put everything, along with napkins on the tray and carried it back to the fire. Illya was sitting on the couch staring into the flames.

Napoleon avoided stepping on the cats sprawled out in front of the fire. “So do you have big plans for tomorrow?”

“I’m going to try and finish everything I need to for Christmas. I’ve got some stuff to pick up, wrapping to do and baking.”

“Don’t need to do any baking for my sake. Our larder is about to burst forth. I got a huge basket from Zabar’s this morning.”

“Zabar’s?” That piqued Illya’s interest and he looked away from the fire as Napoleon set the tray down quietly. .

“The one and only. From April and Mark.”

“They would remember. What did we send them?”

“A wine gift basket filled with local treats. April will complain about her weight and Mark will eat all the chocolate.”

“Consider baking scratched off the list.” Napoleon could tell Illya didn’t mind at all.

“You might want to make some calls. I know that most places offer gift wrapping services. Then one of us could just pick stuff up.”

“One of us?”

“The one not cooking for the party tomorrow night.”

“You’ve been done for weeks, haven’t you?”

Napoleon ignored the question and sipped his coffee. There was just something about Zabar’s coffee that said New York to him. “I thought it might help.”

“And give you a chance to peek. I know you.” Illya grinned. “You might need snowshoes, though.”

“For that stuff outside?” Napoleon laughed. “Not likely. Vermont born and bred. – remember? So, what are you making for the party?”

“I thought maybe lasagna.”

“Rocky told me that Matt’s making that.” He claimed his piece of cheesecake and a fork.

“Um, how about stuffed cannelloni in an Alfredo sauce?”

“Works for me, but that seems a little low key for you.”

“It’s the new me. The new, less exhausted version of me.” Illya reached for his slice of cheesecake. “Would you mind? Me being less exhausted?”

“Would it mean more sex?”

“What part of less exhausted are you referring to?” Illya paused to chew and then sighed deeply, his attention back on the fire.

“Everything okay?”

He didn’t look away from the fire. “That’s the question, isn’t it? Is it okay? I mean, no one has ever done this before. I don’t know what the consequences will be.”

“You’re actually going to give them back?”

“Matt agrees. Taste stopped being fun for us a long time ago. I think it’s time for more fun again with fewer constraints. I’ll call Michelin tomorrow and then make the announcement at the party.”

“You will be losing staff?”

“The ones who want to leave can, the ones who want to stay will be welcomed. I think you need to have a certain mindset to work here. Some of the waiters don’t have it, but they will be perfect in San Francisco or wherever they end up.

Napoleon held up his coffee cup in a toast. “To brave new worlds.”

Illya looked at him and grinned. It was big, open and completely honest. Napoleon had not seen it in years and his heart soared. “No, to recapturing old ones.”

EPILOGUE



Illya Kuryakin closed his eyes and let the music and alcohol lull him into a calm state. His feet were propped up on a chair and his head was tipped hack against the thick cushion of the bench seat. It was nice to have a chance to just be.

The log in the fireplace settled and he lift his head to look in its direction. The fire was slowly dying out, but it should last for a bit longer.

Tables had been pushed back and stacked to make room for an impromptu dance floor. Illya missed that restaurants no longer offered music and dancing, perhaps they should think about that. Now that their stars were going, they were going to need something to bring people in.

Napoleon was taking Gillian for a whirl on the floor. Rand and Henry were dancing with Taste’s twin barkeepers and Rocky was tripping the Light Fantastic with Roxanne. His little family was here and still intact. That was the best Christmas gift of all.

Someone kissed the top of his head and he looked back at Matt. He grinned and slid in beside Illya and handed him a cup of coffee. After working his way through Stella’s ‘Eight Little Reindeer’ drinks, he needed it. “Grazie.

Prego. Cara, you did it.”

“No, Matt, we did it.” To say that Michelin was surprised by Illya’s call was an understatement. It wouldn’t do! People just didn’t give back their hard earned stars! They teach Taste a lesson! They wouldn’t let them even keep a star! The words still echoed in Illya’s ears, but he remained firm but polite. “I just hope we didn’t cut Taste’s throat.” He sipped and let the hot liquid trickle down his throat.

“She did all right before the stars. She will do better now that she can breathe. Also, it is snowing again.”

“We need to get people home soon. I think Roxanne is holding Napoleon up.” At least they didn’t have a massive clean-up job. The food had been cleared and packed up to go home with people, the dishes and kitchen were clean. The only thing they would need to do was turn off the lights and lock the door. It would stand quiet and ready for them to redecorate for New Year’s Eve. “We had two waiters quit upright today when I called to tell them.”

“Good, they aren’t what we want anyway. We have many here that would love to work. I will call them tomorrow.” Then Matt paused before asking quietly. “Was Rubio one of them?”

“No, he’s staying and is, in fact, thinking of moving to Sutter Creek. I told him he could use us as a reference.”

Sono contento. He is a…” Matt floundered, then asked, “Come si dice custode?”

“A keeper? Yes, I think he fits in fine here.” Illya set his cup down and put his hands behind his head. “You know what I think we should do, Matt?”

“Sleep?”

“Well, that as well, but I think we should have a special New Year’s Eve party. Remember the first one we threw?”

Si, Cara. That seems a long time ago.” Matt frowned in thought. “Do we still have the menu?”

“I bet one of us does, probably Roxanne. She keeps saying that she’s going to write a book.”

Matt laughed at that, “Imagine anyone wanting to read about us. Or this place.” He gestured wildly with his arms and Illya rescued his coffee just in time.

Illya chuckled, too. “It’s a crazy thought.” He checked his watch. It was a few minutes after midnight. “Buon Natale, Matt. I’ll call the newspapers tomorrow and tell them what we did. Maybe we could suggest, Come celebrate the rebirth of Taste, all the flavor and none of the pomp.”

Happy New Year by ABBA started to play and Matt stood up. “Dance with me, Cara?”

“I thought you’d never ask.” Illya stood and walked hand-in-hand with Matt to the floor.

Outside, the snow drifted down and inside, one chapter of Taste ended just as another was sure to begin.




Happy New Year - ABBA


No more champagne
And the fireworks are through
Here we are, me and you
Feeling lost and feeling blue

It's the end of the party
And the morning seems so grey
So unlike yesterday
Now's the time for us to say

Happy New Year
Happy New Year
May we all have a vision now and then
Of a world where every neighbor is a friend

Happy New Year
Happy New Year
May we all have our hopes, our will to try
If we don't we might as well lay down and die
You and I

Sometimes I see
How the brave new world arrives
And I see how it thrives
In the ashes of our lives

Oh yes, man is a fool
And he thinks he'll be okay
Dragging on, feet of clay
Never knowing he's astray
Keeps on going anyway

Happy New Year
Happy New Year
May we all have a vision now and then
Of a world where every neighbor is a friend

Happy New Year
Happy New Year
May we all have our hopes, our will to try
If we don't we might as well lay down and die
You and I

Tags: abba/foothills, slash
Subscribe
  • Post a new comment

    Error

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

  • 20 comments