The Top to Bottom to Switch Affaire, Ch 6/(8?)
I don't think I've ever been more motivated to get my evals done in a timely manner, so bear with me, and I'll get the boys through the next bit of their adventure as soon as I can.
The Top to Bottom to Switch Affair; Chapter 6
-a Man from UNCLE slash fanfic by Taylor Dancinghands
Pairing: Napoleon Solo/Illya Kuryakin
Genre: slash, first time, h/c, BDSM, A/U: BDSM Universe (Origionally created by Xanthe )
Warnings: explicit BDSM ==>THIS CHAPTER!!!!<== + m/m; m/f; dubious consent
Rating: adult, aka NC-17
Length: Probably fairly long (30,000-40,000 wds +? 8+ Chapters?). I can't seem to do anything else.
Summary: Set in a BDSM AU. Alpha Top Napoleon Solo, the new CEA at UNCLE, is surprised when he is asked to take a sub on a mission with him. Illya Kuryakin has his secrets, and Napoleon just can't leave well enough alone. Getting the Russian's secrets from him will come with a price, however, for Napoleon has his own secrets -ones that he's keeping from himself, and those are the most dangerous secrets of all.
Intro page and Chapter Index
Disclaimer: I'm old, but still not old enough to be any of the writers or owners of the Man from UNCLE intellectually property. I swear, my own twisted musings are not costing those people a dime, and I won't be making a penny myself.
"Well that will give the neighbors something to talk about," Illya said later, lying on the sofa with Napoleon in his arms, both of them basking in post coital lassitude. Outside, the sun was just coming up.
"Mmm," Napoleon agreed. "Noisey subs they've heard here before, but it's never been me."
"Well, you were only noisey at the end," Illya commented, shifting on the sofa and then making a grab for Napoleon who nearly got tipped off. "We need to move to the bed, I think."
"Great minds think alike," Napoleon concurred, then after further consideration, "You'll stay a while longer?"
"I will," Illya said, rolling them both off the sofa and onto their feet. "But I will need to call in to headquarters. Do you want to shower first?"
Napoleon allowed as how he would rather crash now and shower when he woke, and so Illya tucked him into bed and went to get his communicator.
"Good morning Heather," Illya greeted the receptionist on duty (and soon to come off) as he strolled back into the bedroom, naked as a jaybird and just as unself-conscious. "Can you take a message for Master Waverly for me?"
Sleepy though he was, Napoleon opened his eyes to feast on Illya's splendid form as he came to perch on the foot of the bed.
"He's in already, is he?" Illya continued speaking into the communicator. "Well then I suppose you'd better patch me through." Through the lowered blinds Napoleon could see the sky blushing pink with the first light of a new day, but it was no surprise to hear that their boss was already at work.
"What is it, Mr Kuryakin?" Waverly's distinctive baritone was clearly audible, even through the communicator's tiny speakers.
"Good morning sir," Illya began. "I was calling to let you know that I was planning on coming in late today. I, ah, spent the night looking after a sick friend."
"Indeed," Waverly replied, voice neutral. "Well you might as well take the whole day then, and come in tomorrow prepared to do a proper day's work."
"Um, very well ,sir," Illya said, flustered. "And thank you sir."
"You just get our Mr Solo back into fighting trim as fast as you can, Mr Kuryakin," Napoleon heard with a mixture of dismay and admiration. "We need him here."
"Yes, sir," Illya repeated. "I'll do that sir. Kuryakin out." Illya capped the pen and regarded Napoleon bemusedly.
"Nothing gets past that man, does it," Napoleon said rhetorically.
"That would be why he's the boss," Illya said, climbing into the bed beside Napoleon and spooning close, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
Natural, Napoleon thought. Natural was exactly how it felt to have Illya at his side, in bed, at work or at play, and it appeared that their boss was aware of this as well. This suggested that more missions together lay in their futures, which was a very pleasant thing indeed to dwell on as Napoleon fell asleep.
This prediction bore out precisely, not 3 days after Napoleon had returned to work. Those three days had consisted primarily of catching up with paperwork and reading mission reports, plus getting himself entirely cleared by medical. In short it had been a tedious three days and the idea of getting out on a mission at last held great appeal. Even when it transpired that it was in Alaska.
"The American government has consistently demanded that any technology we find which can be put to a safe, commercial use must be handed over to them," Waverly explained at that morning's briefing. "They actually made it a condition of our lease here in New York. What that means for us today, gentlemen, is that they believe the hyper-cavitation module, which the two of you successfully deprived THRUSH of, and which Mr Kuryakin recently reverse engineered, may possibly be useful in drilling for oil."
Napoleon did not have to glance in Illya's direction to know that he thought this a bad idea. Napoleon felt the same, as did, apparently, Waverly, but he'd explained well enough why their opinions made no difference in this case.
"We sent an... edited set of the technical plans to an oil refinery and research base operated by PetrAmCo in Wainwright, Alaska," Waverly continued. "A remote village on the north slope, which they insist provides for the very highest security. The engineers there report 'promising results' in their experiments so far, but that they now need the complete plans in order to proceed further."
Napoleon frowned. "Not to cast aspersions on the marvel and might of American private industry," Napoleon commented. "But if they think that being located in the back of the Arctic beyond is going to even slow THRUSH down, they're sadly mistaken."
"My thoughts precisely, Mr Solo," Waverly said. "And this is why they have agreed to let us send two of our agents to personally inspect the security situation there. We will not be sending the complete technical plans until we, which is to say you, are completely satisfied that THRUSH is not already there, and that PetrAmCo's security measures are up to snuff."
"But you think that THRUSH may already be there?" Illya asked.
"I find it inconceivable that they will have given up on this technology," Waverly answered, "or that the protective measures this private company will have taken will be nearly enough to thwart THRUSH. These people have no idea what they are up against with THRUSH, and I suspect that they will have badly underestimated them."
"So, we are to travel to Wainwright," Illya said, "investigate their security precautions, find THRUSH, and give this oil company a few lessons in proper security, if necessary."
"You have the essentials, Mr Kuryakin," Waverly said, laying two manilla folders on the table and spinning them around to Napoleon and Illya.
"Here is a complete dossier on PetrAmCo," he said, "and as much information as we've been able to gather on the town of Wainwright. Your flight leaves day after tomorrow, to give you time to equip yourselves properly. I'm told that you can expect sub-zero temperatures as early as September." It was, of course, already August 28th.
"What you international espionage people seem to have overlooked," pronounced PetrAmCo's on site supervisor, Peter Grantner, with no small amount of condescension, "is that we in the oil industry have been dealing with industrial espionage from the very beginning. We actually do know a thing or two about security here, and no, Mr Kooreeyackin, we do not assume that our remote location makes us invulnerable. Frankly, I find this little 'inspection' from UNCLE just another foot dragging tactic, and you can rest assured that the Senator from Alaska will have an earful about it from me." The Senator from Alaska, they'd already been informed, happened to be good friends with the Senator from New York.
"Mt Grantner," Napoleon said, with all the patience he could muster after a ten hour flight involving no less than six plane changes. "We do appreciate that industrial espionage is nothing new for you and your people, but UNCLE agents, good men and women, gave up their lives to keep this technology out of the hands of those who would use it to do evil. You can be sure that those agencies are either here already, or will be soon, and they will not hesitate, even to take the lives of every man, woman and child in Wainwright, if they believe it will grant them access to this technology."
"If they are aware of the presence of the H-C module here," Grantner said indignantly, "then that breach can be laid at the feet of your organization, not ours. Our security and personnel vetting procedures are flawless, and our security record at this facility is perfect."
The expression, 'Methinks the lady doth protest too much', had been going around and around in Napoleon's head from the first moment of their meeting with Mr Grantner. He was acting way too much like someone who had something to hide, but now he and Illya had to act as if they had no reason whatsoever to doubt his words, yet still insist that some motions, at least, had to be gone through. Grantner, it was clear, wanted them gone yesterday, Illya especially, for some reason. Napoleon took him to most likely be one of those tedious, knee-jerk Red baiters, but it would be unwise to assume that was all.
In the end, they got Grantner to agree to open their personnel files, particularly those of their most recent hires. They'd begin going over those tomorrow morning, after they'd settled in to their room —in the company dormitory— gotten a hot meal and a good night's sleep. They'd seen plenty of spectacular Alaskan wilderness on their flight in, but the town of Wainwright gave Napoleon the impression a garbage strewn, oil stained blemish on the pristine coastline. In addition to the PetrAmCo complex, the town consisted of a couple hundred ramshackle houses, a school, a town hall, the town store and a dingy cafe/tavern where the food was guaranteed to be over-priced, mediocre and served with a heaping helping of town gossip (much of it delivered behind your back).
This was where Napoleon and Illya went for dinner, as they were too late for the meal served in the oil company commissary, and besides, Napoleon figured that this would be a good way to get a feel for the town and its residents. These were ninety percent Inupiaq indians, with the rest consisting of school teachers from the lower forty-eight, and a handful of Coast Guard and Air Force personnel, who manned the Early Warning station located at the edge of town. These latter —Tops all— took up more than half the current customers at the tavern, and from what Napoleon could see, they'd already consumed quite a lot of the hideously expensive, lousy American beer that was the only alcohol available there.
He was just finishing up a hamburger which Napoleon would swear he could actually hear 'whinnying' as he ate it, when he caught Illya giving him a significant glance. They were being approached by a young native woman, who was determinedly ignoring the catcalls and other, cruder comments flung her way as she entered. The comments, and the braided leather wristband Napoleon noticed on her left arm, marked her as a sub, according to Inupiaq tribal customs.
"No subs in here Tina!" called the barman, an Inupiaq Top, as indicated by his facial tattoos. "You know the rules."
"I'm here to do business," she said, no nonsense. "Lippy told me there's a couple of newbies in town," she tilted her head toward Napoleon and Illya, "and I gotta catch 'em here 'cause they won't let me into the oil company complex."
Of course, Napoleon recalled, the oil company complex and the Early Warning station were mainly manned by Tops, and it was both company and military policy that there be as little mixing with the locals as possible. Inupiaq custom had it that any sub who spent a single night with a Top was as good as married, and any sub who spent a night with more than one Top was as good as a prostitute. It made for numerous unpleasant cultural clashes, but that was no excuse for dynamicism, or racism .
"Forgive me," said Illya frostily, standing and turning his head so that the barman could not fail to notice his collar. "I did not intend to violate the rules. I will escort the young lady outside and wait there while my partner pays for our meal." Unquestionably the first and last meal they'd be eating here.
It was dark and bitterly cold when Napoleon stepped outside to find Illya and the young sub standing under a streetlamp and watching the retreating form of a woman heading past the main gates of the PetrAmCo complex.
"All I know is she never hired me for nothing," the native girl was telling Illya as Napoleon approached. "I think she's only been here a few weeks."
"And what might you be hired to do?" Napoleon asked.
"Nothing fishy!" she began adamantly. "I'm a free sub still, and I will be until I pick my own Top. Until then, me and my dogs, we take visitors around the area. If you're hunters, I know the best spots to bag a moose or a bear; if you're bird watchers, I know where the best places to see the most birds; if you're here to fish, I know who has a good boat and won't rip you off. So, what'll it be gents?"
"Actually," Illya said, "we are geologists, working for the oil company. But we could use a general tour of the immediate area. Are you available tomorrow?"
"Hmmm... lemme see," she said, extracting an appointment book from one of the voluminous pockets in her hooded, seal skin parka. "I'm pretty booked, but it looks like a might have a slot... all day tomorrow?" She grinned infectiously at her own joke and even Illya had to crack a smile in return.
"Well, now you've got your whole afternoon booked," Napoleon said. "Do you require a deposit?"
In the end they paid Tina Oktollik five dollars with an agreement to pay another fifteen at the conclusion of their tour tomorrow, which would begin at noon. They could spend the morning going over the personnel records.
"Speaking of personnel records," Illya mentioned as they passed through the security gate in front of the PetrAmCo complex and headed to the dorms. "There's something we've overlooked: temporary workers."
"You think they have any temp staff here?" Napoleon asked, stepping into the 'airlock' of the dormitory's front entrance.
"Surely they must," Illya said, unzipping his parka in the sudden, almost stifling warmth of the indoor space. "What if someone needed to take a few weeks off to care for a sick parent, or attend a child's collaring ceremony?"
"You may have a point there," Napoleon considered, digging into the pocket of his own parka for their room key. The rooms on this floor were really collage dorm style, with two cots, two small closets and two tiny desks in each room. Down the hall there was a gang showers and toilets, and there were facilities for play in the basement. It was all fairly impersonal and strictly utilitarian, but as long as it was sufficiently heated Napoleon didn't much care.
"There is something else I must mention as well," Illya said, sitting on the bed once he had removed and hung up several outer layers of winter clothing. Napoleon paused in his sorting of toiletries in preparation for a shower, letting Illya know he had his attention.
"You know that I have a photographic memory," he began. Napoleon nodded. "And I am aware that you visited one of UNCLE's forensic artists to have a sketch made of the woman THRUSH agent from your... encounter in Finland." Napoleon nodded again, beginning to see where this must be headed, but not wanting to believe it.
"I have committed that portrait to memory, Napoleon," Illya continued, "and the woman I saw this evening, the one I was asking Tina about when you came outside... I am fairly sure that was her."
Napoleon frowned deeply, sitting on his own cot to process this information. "Illya..." he began. "What are the odds?"
"It is not a matter of odds, Napoleon," Illya replied. "She is a known THRUSH agent, which is exactly what we expected to find here."
"Sure... but, much as I hate to admit it, there are hundreds, possibly thousands of THRUSH agents out there," Napoleon countered. "Why would she, of all the possible agents, be here?"
Illya shrugged, expressively. "It could be pure coincidence, or it could be that THRUSH knows that you were involved with the seizure of the H-C module in the first place and she may well have told them that she has some sort of 'hold' on you. Or it could merely be that she is the THRUSH designated agent for cold climate affairs."
"Right," said Napoleon, scrubbing at his face in fatigue. "She doesn't, you know," he added after a moment. "Have a hold on me, I mean."
"I know," Illya replied, as though confirming that he knew the sun would rise in the East. Hearing such placid confidence from his partner made Napoleon grateful beyond words.
"Well, then," he said after a moment. "I believe I'm going to go take that shower now."
"And I believe I'll go and keep an eye on things while you do," Illya answered.
Were it any other agent, Napoleon might have wondered, at that moment, whether his partner doubted him, or was merely watching his back. With Illya, there was no question, and that was a comfort he appreciated to the depth of his soul.
In the morning, after an uninspired but fortifying breakfast in the commissary, Napoleon and Illya went straight to Personnel to begin the more tedious tasks of the day. They had their first significant clue before they had hardly begun, however. Grantner had told them that they could use his office assistant's desk to work at, because no one would be using it till later in the afternoon. The nameplate on the desk read 'Kevin Fortino', but Illya discovered a discrepancy as they cleared a few personal items off the surface.
"Am I alone in finding it odd that someone named 'Kevin' is using this much lipstick?" he asked, showing Napoleon the pink smeared coffee cup he'd just picked up there.
"Not if it's a normal work day," Napoleon concurred. "But we can pull his records too, to be sure."
Mr Fortino, it transpired, was a Top, not in a committed relationship, and was currently attending his niece's college graduation in Oxnard. The temp worker who had been sent to replace him, however, was a woman sub named, according to personnel records, Robin Angelica.
"I suppose it would be too much to ask for this to be just a really crazy coincidence?" Napoleon asked, looking forlornly at name in the paperwork. Illya would not dignify the question with anything more than a disapproving scowl. Examining the rest of the temps and recent hires, they came up with another three or four suspicious names before lunch and sent them all to UNCLE for further research.
Secure communication with UNCLE from the PetrAmCo facility required booking private satellite time, which they had prearranged for every day at eleven thirty. Alaska's north slope was too remote a location for their communicators to work directly, but at times it might be possible to patch them through the Early Warning station. This left Napoleon with a sense of working without a net, though it was true that even in places where UNCLE's extensive communications network functioned, help might still be days or even weeks away. It was easy to forget that such remote places as Alaska still existed in the world, and it made Napoleon that much more grateful for the civilized support systems he'd gotten used to.
After their daily communication with UNCLE, another boring yet sufficient meal in the commissary followed, and after that was their tour of the area with Tina Oktollik and her dogsled. She was accustomed to taking visitors on overnight trips, she explained as they began the first leg of their tour, and in that case, the sled would be loaded with food and equipment. Since this was just a half day trip, one of them could ride in the sled, if they wanted.
At first they both demurred, Illya insisting that he wanted to run off lunch and Napoleon declaring that it would be undignified. After half an hour or so of trotting beside Tina's under-burdened and energetic dogs, however, Napoleon acquiesced, and when he started to feel a little cold from lack of movement, Illya was happy to take his place. They took turns in this manner as Tina took them around to view the coastline, various significant rock outcroppings (she did think them to be geologists, after all) and other scenic points. Although they offered, Tina never took a turn riding.
"The dogs would never respect me if I did that," she said. "I might stand on the runners at the end of a really long day, or in a downhill stretch, but the musher never rides." She was an indomitably cheerful woman, even when the dogs misbehaved, or when she spoke of how the PetrAmCo people misused and exploited her people.
"The ones who don't want to work for the oil company," she said, "they tell us that we're backwards, that we're primitive savages, but we're not the ones destroying the land and poisoning the animals." Napoleon and Illya exchanged guilty glances at this, for they knew what she was saying was true, but there was nothing they could or would do about it. Once the module was safe and THRUSH thwarted, they would be gone and the despoliation of the land and denigration of the local people would continue.
Tina suggested one more stop before they returned to Wainwright which, at last, did seem like something that might be relevant to their mission. There was an old abandoned barracks, she explained, a couple of miles from town, left over from World War Two. It was nothing much, but visitors often asked to see it.
"Ëspecially lately," Tina said, steering the dogs and sled to the north. "A lot of the new arrivals seemed real interested is seeing the place, though I don't know why. It's just a bunch of old abandoned buildings."
"Well, now I'm curious as to what everyone else was curious about," Napoleon said. "I guess you'll have to take us there too."
"You wouldn't by chance remember which new arrivals those might have been?" Illya inquired, trotting effortlessly alongside Tina.
"I dunno if I can remember their names," she said, "but I think it there were a couple of geologists, like you fellows, and then... I think it was an engineer... and maybe his name was Martin?"
Napoleon exchanged another meaningful look with Illya, for Martin had been one of the names from among the personnel records which they'd flagged as suspicious.
The sun was low on the horizon when they came to the abandoned barracks, though it would hang there, circling around towards the northwest for a couple of hours yet before it slipped altogether out of sight. The handful of neglected buildings cast long shadows over the empty terrain around them, lending to the mood of desolation. There had been two wooden barracks buildings on either side of a corrugated metal quonset hut, but one of the barracks had burned and only a few blackened timbers and one corner of that building remained. The other was boarded up, though the boards had been pried off the door, which hung now on only one hinge and banged forlornly in the wind.
"We used to play out here when we were kids," Tina said. "We'd even have sleepovers in the old barracks, but then one night some older kids were out here drinking, and someone got careless with a candle. One of them, old lady Anshiki's boy, was too drunk to get out in time, and burned to death." Napoleon shook his head, thinking that the emotionless, matter-of-factness of Tina's voice as she told the story made it even more heartbreaking.
"Anyhow, nobody goes out here any more," Tina continued after a pause. "Lately I've heard some of the younger kids saying that there's mines or unexploded bombs out here or something, but that's a buncha bull. Sometimes I wonder how rumors like that get started."
"How indeed?" Illya said thoughtfully when a sudden icy wind struck them, cutting Napoleon's exposed skin like a knife. A second later an inky blue-grey cloud had swept over the sun from the north, washing the color out of the bleak landscape all around them.
"Okay sirs, time to head back," Tina said briskly, no outward worry in her voice, though the dogs were pulling the sled around already, without any evident instruction.
"How long before the storm hits?" Illya asked, in a knowledgeable tone of voice that made Napoleon wonder if Illya hadn't maybe spent some time living in Siberia or somewhere like it.
"We'll make it back to town in plenty of time if we step lively," Tina said unconcernedly. "But we sure don't want to get caught in it. It'll be forty mile an hour winds and zero visibility in about an hour here."
This was more than motivation enough for both the agents, and they had no trouble making it back to the complex well before the storm hit. They paid Tina off and tipped her to boot so that she flashed them another one of her infectious smiles before she turned her dogsled and headed off with a wave.
"We're going to have to give those old barracks a closer look, partner," Napoleon said as they went inside. "I wonder if we can't rent a snowmobile or something?"
"We'll need to take care who we rent it from," Illya advised.
"Good point," said Napoleon. "But hey, I bet Tina would know someone."
Napoleon put that on the mental list he was beginning to compile, of things to do tomorrow. Back in their room, he and Illya washed up and compared their impressions of the day's discoveries. Illya agreed on the idea of renting a snowmobile and checking out the old barracks tomorrow, and Napoleon agreed to Illya's suggestion that they should begin trying to track down Mr Grantner's temporary office assistant this evening. If it was Angelique Napoleon very much wanted to know.
They decided to split up, one keeping an eye on 'Ms Angelica's' room (whose number they'd gotten from her personnel records) while the other kept an eye on the commissary. They switched places midway so that they could each have a chance to eat dinner, but other than that brief window, they never left either the commissary or her room unobserved. Despite this, there was no sign of her all evening. Though they said that she usually ate in the commissary, the kitchen staff said that they hadn't seen her tonight. The security guard at front desk claimed he hadn't seen her all evening either, but there wasn't going to be much coming or going tonight, as the storm had hit full on and was likely to last the whole night at least. Illya clearly found this suspicious and Napoleon couldn't disagree.
They took turns keeping an eye on her room for another couple of hours after the commissary closed, but Napoleon was increasingly convinced that they weren't going to spot her this way. It was damned suspicious, but nothing more than that, and it told them nothing concrete. He was debating the question as to whether it would be worth the lost sleep to keep up the observation all night when Illya came to relieve him on watch and so asked his advice.
"I'm not at all sure," his partner said with a sigh. "But I have the feeling that nothing much is going to happen while it's storming like this."
"Yeah, me too," Napoleon said, giving up on stifling the yawn and stretch he'd been holding at bay for the last hour or so. "You mind if I have a quick shower while you take the next watch? Then maybe we can both call it a night."
"Sounds like a plan," Illya concurred. It had been a long day for both of them, and a full night's sleep would likely serve them better than whatever information they might or might not glean from an all night stakeout. That was what they'd thought, anyhow, and it served as little consolation later for Napoleon, that Illya had come to the same conclusion. Naturally, it was while Napoleon was showering that Illya poked his head in to tell him that he'd heard voices, and man and a woman's, from the west stairwell. The man's voice, he thought, was Grantner's.
Napoleon was just rinsing the soap off, and said he'd be out in a second. It was a disappointment to put the day's less than fresh clothes back on once he was out of the shower, but Napoleon dressed as quickly as he could, heading out into the hall in his sock feet, UNCLE Special out and ready. The hallway was empty and silent.
Napoleon called Illya's name, quietly at first, then more loudly. He headed towards the west stairwell, concrete steps ice cold through his socks, but saw and heard nothing -nothing save the howling of the wind outside. Napoleon headed down the stairs to the first floor, then pocketed the gun and made his way quickly to the front desk. They, predictably, had seen nothing.
Worry mounting, Napoleon returned to the stairwell, following the sound of the screeching wind, and went down half a flight to find the emergency exit door ajar, a little drift of snow already forming just beyond the open crack where the wind had blown it. Sock feet notwithstanding, Napoleon yanked the door open, shouting out into the blizzard uselessly. A little light from the stairs spilled out into the blowing chaos outside, and it was possible that he could see the faint remains of a set of snowmobile tracks, but it was impossible to say for sure. The last traces of any such marks would be obliterated by the wind in minutes regardless, and no one would be able to follow any such tracks in this weather and at night.
Illya was gone, and there was no way for Napoleon to follow him until after the storm blew over. Seething with helpless fury and furious regret, Napoleon stood, feet slowly growing numb with the cold, and stared out into the impenetrable wall of snow, wind and darkness, impotent in the knowledge that somewhere out there was his partner, in the hands of his enemies.
So there it is. As you may have noticed in the header, I doubt I'll be wrapping this up in one chapter, but I'm shooting for just two more. I'll be getting to those concluding chapters as soon as I can, I promise.