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The Theremin's Protege Affair: Part III

-a Man from UNCLE slash fanfic by Taylor Dancinghands

Pairing: Napoleon Solo/Illya Kuryakin
Genre: slash, h/c, BDSM, A/U: BDSM Universe (Originally created by Xanthe )
Warnings: explicit BDSM (Duh!) + m/m sex
Rating: adult, aka NC-17
Beta: The highly precise and efficient spikesgirl58 Thanks!

Length: 3 parts. Part 1 (4 chapters) ~19,000 words. Part 2 (5 chapters) ~23,000, Part 3 (4 chapters) 17,600

Summary: Napoleon has won his submissive's freedom, but at what cost to himself, and to Illya? It takes a little while for each of them to realize the toll it has taken, and longer still to put things back to rights.



Chapter 1 and Index



The Theremin's Protege Affair


Part Three: Reset to Default


Chapter 10

Napoleon Solo knew well, from long experience, that even following a hard won battle, the third and last act was often the hardest part of an affair. They had won the challenge, presented themselves to the guard station and waited for the guards to decide that no one else was coming to contest Napoleon's victory. Eventually they had been given a helicopter ride back to Moscow, but their ordeal was far from over.

Napoleon was tired and aching all over and all he wanted to do was have a long hot shower, curl up in bed with his sub and wait for UNCLE's plane to come and get them. Instead they had to endure a lengthy 'congratulatory' dinner during which their Soviet hosts were clearly lying through their teeth every time they declared that 'the better man' had won. Reznikov did not attend. Napoleon was plied with copious amounts of vodka throughout and while he did imbibe a small amount to dull the pain, it was no more than that, as he knew he would be expected to perform later in the evening.

Illya, the 'prize' of the proceedings, was hardly acknowledged at all, though Napoleon kept him leashed and close all evening. Illya stood at his Top's side when Napoleon stood, and knelt when Napoleon sat, eating from his Top's hand when dinner was served as no place was set for any submissive. They were both greatly relieved when the dinner came to an end and he and Illya were allowed to return to the 'privacy' of their room. Napoleon knew that privacy to be an illusion, however, and that yet one more performance was expected of them.

More than any of the other acts they'd had to take part in for this affair so far, this last one would be a true performance for an unseen audience which Napoleon frankly hoped would include Reznikov. He began by giving Illya a hard and lengthy spanking —though not so hard or long that Illya didn't enjoy it. It was easy to make each blow of his hand on Illya's buttocks sound very loud but cause little pain, all the while declaring loudly that he was sure that Illya's Soviet masters had not punished him enough during his time with them.

When they'd both had enough of this, Napoleon laid back on the bed and commanded that Illya prepare himself, then ride his master's cock. He chose this position mainly because it would tax his injured ribs less, but he made it sound harder by instructing Illya that he must not touch himself and that he might come but only under this condition. Napoleon knew full well that Illya was capable of bringing himself to climax without being touched while he was being fucked and, after a respectable length of time spent loudly fucking, Illya came and Napoleon followed.

Napoleon ordered Illya to clean them up afterwards, though he usually preferred to take care of this himself. He was usually an attentive and caring Top, but tonight he hurt and besides, his audience would expect the Top to be the one waited upon, not doing the waiting. When at last Illya climbed into bed beside him and turned out the lights, Napoleon expected to drop off to sleep immediately, but found that he could not.

Possibly it was because of his awareness that others might still be listening in, or because he was in pain. He had disdained to ask for any medical care from the Soviets, whom he could hardly trust. It might also have been because he did not feel entirely secure in his possession of Illya. In a nation where it was considered good practice to place a lead seal on a sub's collar, lest they, or someone else, attempt to remove it without the Top's knowledge or permission, he could have no confidence that his lawful claim would be respected —especially not with a mere bit of black cloth standing in for his collar around Illya's neck.

Having Illya in his arms, however, was a profound comfort and so, once Napoleon had finally resigned himself to a sleepless night, he took that comfort and cherished it, all through the long hours of the night. They were wakened early, though not too early, by a knock at the door telling them that they had a message from UNCLE. A pair of seats had been booked for them on a non-stop flight from Moscow to New York, leaving at eleven thirty that morning.

This news so energized Napoleon that all the fatigue of his sleepless night seemed to vanish in an instant. He and Illya had plenty of time to shower, pack their things, and have breakfast in the commissary downstairs. It was necessary for Illya to kneel, leashed, at his Top's side and be fed his meal, but by now they were almost used to it and Napoleon had no trouble making sure Illya got enough to eat.

After that they caught a taxi to the airport, arriving with an hour to spare before their flight departed, as Napoleon would sooner spend the time waiting at the airport than at the guest house. Besides, he had something he wanted to deal with just now, and it was better not to be rushed.

Napoleon was dressed in one of his better suits, not wanting to draw the sort of attention he'd needed for the initial hearing. Illya still wore his flight jacket, the turtleneck Napoleon had brought for him, and a pair of jeans… and the black bandanna Napoleon had tied around his neck. It was not at all a proper collar, but it would be seen as one on the plane and on the streets of New York. Napoleon was of the opinion that it would be better to have it off beforehand —if Illya was amenable.

They were sitting in the departure lounge, as neutral and blandly appointed as most such spaces. Only a handful of other passengers had arrived so far and they were scattered about the oversized space. For the moment, he and Illya had something almost like privacy.

"Illya," he began, placing a hand on his partners arm to catch his attention. "I'd like to make a… proposal, in the more general sense of the word. By which I mean that if you don't like it then that's okay, and I'll drop it, for now."

"Very well," Illya replied with an amused smile. "What do you propose?"

"I've been thinking about when would be best to remove my, um, bandanna," Napoleon said carefully. He'd taken care never to refer to cloth he'd tied around Illya's neck as a collar, though he didn't really know how much of a difference it made. "I thought maybe it would be better to make it part of some other transition… such as, say, leaving a country, or going from a departure lounge to a plane."

"You mean, now," Illya said, clearly trying to hide his sudden uneasiness.

"The people on this plane most likely won't know who we are or pay much attention to us as we are now," Napoleon explained. "But if they see you get on the plane wearing that," he gestured at the cloth circling Illya's neck, "and then later see that you aren't wearing it… they will notice. Questions will be asked."

"And it would be better not to have it on when I arrive in New York," Illya said, thinking out loud.

"That was the conclusion I was coming to," said Napoleon.

Illya nodded, gazing down at where his hands were clasped over his knees. Napoleon reached one hand out to cover them. "Illya, if you don't want me to…"

"No," Illya said, lifting his head and drawing a long breath. "You are correct, as was I when I said I didn't want any Top's collar. I knew what I wanted then, and even if part of me isn't so sure now… that's not really me, and it's not going to be any easier if we wait until I'm sure."

Napoleon squeezed Illya's hands, hoping to communicate even one tenth of the affection and admiration he felt for him just now. "I do feel a little exposed here, though," Napoleon said, as they were sitting pretty much in the center of the lounge. He eyed a more secluded corner. "Let's relocate over there, yes?"

Illya agreed wholeheartedly, so they picked up their carry-on bags and crossed the lounge to an out of the way bank of chairs near the window, looking out onto the flight concourse. Their chairs were set perpendicular to the windows and Illya sat next to Napoleon but turned away, to look out at the taxiing planes. Napoleon laid both his hands on Illya's shoulders, leaning close to kiss the back of his neck. Illya bent his head in response and waited.

"You, Illya Nickovetch Kuryakin, are the man I love," Napoleon murmured into his ear as his fingers worked loose the knot in the bandanna. "The man who will not accept any Top's collar… even mine." The knot opened then and the band of cloth slipped away from Illya's neck. Napoleon pocketed it, promising himself that he would burn it later as a caution against future temptations.

Napoleon heard Illya swallow loudly as the bandanna left his neck and his body stiffened slightly, as though he was in pain. Gently, Napoleon pulled him into his embrace, cradling his head against his shoulder and stroking his hair. He did not think Illya actually wept, but probably came fairly close. They remained thus until their flight was announced. Then Illya lifted himself away from Napoleon's embrace, combed his fingers through his hair and told Napoleon he was all right.

He was all right enough; Napoleon gave him that much and they boarded the plane without incident. They both immersed themselves in the American newspapers and magazines the stewardess brought around once they'd taken off and after a few hours Illya fell asleep, head resting on Napoleon's shoulder. Napoleon thought he might sleep as well, considering how little he'd gotten the night before, but sleep continued to elude him. He woke Illya gently when the Statue of Liberty came into view below their windows and Illya gave him a brief smile so sad it was nearly heartbreaking.

Thus begins his exile, Napoleon thought, though Illya's features quickly returned to their usual enigmatic cast. UNCLE had sent a car and driver to meet them, which Napoleon appreciated. Waverly wanted to see them fresh off the plane, of course, but he was mercifully brief, content with their summary account of the events of their adventure on the far side of the Iron Curtain. Illya also made the official request that UNCLE assist him in applying for asylum from the Soviet Union and securing his US citizenship. His voice was utterly steady as he made this request, but Napoleon could see the little part of him that died inside when he spoke those words.

The old man let them go after that and then they both made a visit to medical where Napoleon got x-rays of his ribs and foot, neither of which, thankfully, were broken. These injuries tended to, Napoleon called a taxi to take both of them home but had it stop on the way to pick up a takeout meal of the most American food he could think of. The question of whether Illya would stay at Napoleon's place that night, or then next, or the next after that, was not even discussed. Once home, however, and the wonderfully smelling dinner of burgers and fried chicken, fries and coleslaw was laid out on the table, they both found that they were too tired and overwrought to have much appetite. They prodded each other into consuming enough for sustenance, then packed the rest of the food away and headed for the shower.

In the shower, having washed each other thoroughly, Illya wanted to suck Napoleon's cock. Too wrung out to say no, and hoping as well that it might help him sleep, Napoleon let him and let himself indulge in the pure pleasure of Illya's mouth on his cock. Illya came when Napoleon did and when he could stand Napoleon pulled him up to kiss him long and sweetly until the water began to run cold.

"My Illushka," Napoleon said, when they'd toweled each other dry and come to sit on the bed, arms entangled in a half embrace. "How are you doing?"

It was the first chance they'd had to speak frankly and truly privately in what seemed like years and Napoleon could see and feel Illya's body relax as the question reminded him of this.

"Honestly," Illya said, clearly treasuring the simple word and what it meant, "I'm feeling… a bit at sea. Or perhaps schizophrenic. I seem to possess two different sets of instincts now." He shook his head. "One of them will have to take the back seat eventually, but for the moment… everything is a bit unsettled. How about you?"

"I feel like I've just been on the front lines," Napoleon answered, the very act of putting words to his mental state helping him find clarity. "I remember feeling like this back in Korea, or more exactly, when I would come home on leave. Everything and everyone seemed to be expecting me to go back to how I was before, but I couldn't. I couldn't seem to leave the war behind."

Illya leaned into him and Napoleon responded, wrapping Illya in his arms and holding him close. "This is going to take a while," Illya said, not with dismay, but with the knowing patience he possessed and which Napoleon very much admired.

"Luckily, Waverly's given us a whole week off," Napoleon said, still somewhat astonished at this bit of unaccustomed largess from their boss.

"Yes, and I intend to spend at least half of it sleeping," Illya announced with a jaw-cracking yawn. It inspired a similar impulse in Napoleon and this inspired them both to crawl into the bed and under the covers. They kissed each other goodnight, turned off the lights and then rolled to lie spooned together, Illya ensconced in Napoleon's arms. It was, on the one hand, something they'd done hundreds of times before and therefore utterly unremarkable, and yet, on the other, nearly miraculous.

Their last sleep together had been in the highly bugged foreigners' guest house in Moscow, and the one before that had been in a drafty stairwell in an abandoned building in the middle of an irradiated Soviet industrial park on the borders of Kazakhstan. Such abrupt transitions were commonplace in their line of work, of course, but this one seemed even more so. Illya, enclosed in the comfort of Napoleon's arms had dropped off to sleep instantly, but Napoleon was still wakeful, his mind kept restless by the miraculous nature of the commonplace.

Mental state notwithstanding, however, Napoleon had gone too long without sleep. Between the physical and psychological comforts of his own bed and partner, and the remaining traces of post-coital pleasure, the part of him unwilling to cease in its vigilance was finally overwhelmed and released Napoleon into slumber at last.

***

He was looking up at Illya at the top of the fire escape again. There was no sign of Reznikov's man now. It was just the two of them in this empty, poisoned city, and the ancient, rusted fire escape, groaning and shuddering under Illya's slight weight. There seemed no reason for Illya to be up there now, though. Napoleon started to call for him to come down, but when he tried to speak… nothing happened.

His voice seemed frozen in his throat and yet he had to get Illya to come down. He would have to climb up to him. Napoleon began to mount the creaking stairs, taking hold of the rusted railings as he climbed, but something about the railings felt strange. He looked at his hands, expecting to find them coated with red-brown rust powder and they were, and yet… it was more than a mere coating. His hands were rusting too —the corrosion etching deep into his fingers where bits were already flaking off.

By the inexplicable logic of dreams, this seemed only a puzzling inconvenience. Napoleon still needed to get to Illya and so continued to climb. He no longer had a hold on the railings, however, as gripping the iron bars caused his fingers and hands to crumble away… and the rusty infection seemed to be spreading with alarming rapidity up his arms. And not only there. Napoleon stumbled as he climbed, then became aware that his feet and legs had become likewise afflicted.

His knee joint seemed to freeze, then cracked and bent in a way it really shouldn't. He kept on climbing. Illya needed him… or perhaps he needed Illya, but he dared not stop in any case. He stumbled again, saw that one of his feet had crumbled away to nothing, fell and caught himself on the corroded stumps of his arms. Prone on the stairs now, he felt the transformation take hold of his whole body, rendering him rigid, fragile, and then eating him away.

Napoleon looked up at his partner once more to find him farther away than ever, impossibly high above him. He felt his neck creak and rasp, rusty flakes crumbling away as he tilted his head back. He knew now why he couldn't speak, for the rust had invaded his vocal chords. His desire to reach his partner seemed to have made some impact, however, for now he saw Illya looking down at him from above. For one moment their eyes met, Illya's sorrowful and his own, Napoleon imagined, already clouding over with rust. Then, with a sudden, loud groan, the iron platform under Illya gave way and he, along with the whole structure, began to fall.

In a cataclysm of rusty clangs and crashes, the entire fire escape collapsed in corroded fragments onto Napoleon, but there was nothing of him left anymore, for he, too, had become no more than fragments and powdered rust, scattered by the wind.


Napoleon woke with a gasp of horror, heart pounding and skin clammy with sweat.

He was sitting up in his own bed, bedclothes clutched desperately in fingers which he peered at closely in the faint light from outside the curtained window. Normal flesh and bone fingers were what he saw, to his great relief, and he swallowed hard, seeking to put the sense that they had ever been anything else behind him. Seeing as he'd had this same dream several nights now, that was not such an easy thing.

Sleep had continued to be problematic for him since returning from the Soviet Union last week, but the nightmares had begun several days ago. He had not yet spoken about them in his obligatory visits to the UNCLE shrink. As Section Two head, he'd had to sign on to the necessity of such things, but thought that, in his case, they were of little use. He'd learned in these little sessions, for instance, that his insomnia and general high strung feelings were called 'hyper vigilance' and were common among soldiers returning from heavy combat, but he didn't see where this helped him get over it. He refrained from complaining about his own mandatory sessions, however, because Illya had them too and he was sure that Illya did need… something.

They were on leave and could do as they wished, but he'd never known Illya to spend so much of his day sleeping. It was as if he was making up for the sleep Napoleon wasn't getting. Furthermore, he seemed to have a hard time keeping focus on anything. This, from his normally razor sharp partner, troubled Napoleon deeply.

What had downright frightened Napoleon a few days ago, was what Illya had said as they were unpacking all of Illya's personal belongings which had been packed up prior to his departure. The UNCLE movers hadn't even gotten around to putting Illya's furniture in storage yet —which Napoleon thought was testimony to just how sure everyone at UNCLE had been that he would be bringing Illya back. All that remained to be done to move Illya back in was rebuild the brick-and-board bookshelves, rewire the stereo and unpack all the books and records.

Illya seemed to have little or no appetite for the task, however. He would open various boxes, removing a few items and then gazing at them, seeming to not recognize them, or to have no idea what he was going to do with them. Finally, Napoleon had to ask him what the matter was.

"I… I don't think I can do this, Napoleon," he'd answered with a sigh.

"Do what?" Napoleon had asked, trying not to let the alarm he felt show in his voice.

"Go back to my old life," Illya said, "as if nothing had ever happened; as if I had never learned how I can live as another man's possession… and like it."

"Illya, that's not what happened. You know that," Napoleon interjected, but Illya shook his head.

"This place was my first really free home, you know," Illya said. "Even my student lodgings in Cambridge were bugged, but here I could live in complete privacy, for the first time in my life. I could keep my own hours, buy whatever music or literature I liked, and come back to a place that was mine and mine alone, where I always felt safe." Illya stood now and gestured at the chaotic space around him.

"Now, I can barely stand even the idea of spending a night here alone… without you." The look Illya gave Napoleon then was almost despairing… and almost accusing. It felt like a touch of ice to his heart.

"It'll take time, Illya," Napoleon tried to assure him, reaching out to take his hand. "You said so yourself, that it would take a while."

Illya took Napoleon's hand reluctantly at first and Napoleon could feel him fighting the neediness that had dogged him since their return. He succumbed to it after a moment, however, falling into Napoleon's arms with a sigh.

"What if time isn't enough?" he'd asked into Napoleon's shoulder. "What if they broke me?" And that was the question that chilled Napoleon to the bone, because if Illya Kuryakin was broken, he knew who'd done it, and it wasn't the Soviets.

Of course he'd had only the best of intentions when he'd taken Illya down so hard and so far, but had he actually, as the old wartime adage went, 'destroyed the village in order to save it'? This was the thought that engendered yet another wave of cold sweat as Napoleon scrubbed at his face and tried to will away the dread of the dream and the worries that came in its wake. Beside him, he felt Illya stir, wakened and no doubt troubled by Napoleon's recurring nightmares.

Illya said nothing at first, but drew Napoleon into his arms and stilled his shaking. Memories of cold, corroding metal faded in the warmth and strength of his partner's embrace and Napoleon felt his body begin to relax at last.

"The same one again?" Illya asked, for he had made Napoleon tell him, after the first time, what the dream had entailed. "This is the third time, yes?" he asked when Napoleon nodded. "I think you ought to tell Dr Elsberg about it."

"I told you about it so I wouldn't have to tell him," Napoleon said, relieved to note that, while his voice sounded rough, at least his throat wasn't actually rusted shut.

"I'm not a professional psychologist, Napoleon," Illya admonished. "There is a reason UNCLE keeps one in their employ."

"I trust you more than I trust him," Napoleon said matter-of-factly. "I don't feel… safe with him the way I do with you."

"You are very sweet to say so," Illya said kissing his ear, "and I have no doubt that it's true, since the same goes for me… but I don't know how I can help you… I don't even know how I can help myself."

Even as Napoleon winced inwardly at the near despair he heard in Illya's voice, an answer came to him —one too mad, too terrifying to contemplate long, but one that he had to voice now, before he lost his nerve.

"You could Top me, Illya," he said, barely speaking the words aloud. "I… I think that may be what I need right now."

Illya's first response was to draw himself upright, loosening his hold on Napoleon. The notion seemed entirely unexpected and Illya's brow furrowed as he chewed it over.

"I… I'm not sure…" he began after many long seconds, and Napoleon felt his heart plummet.

"Never mind," Napoleon stepped in hurriedly. "It was just…" But he didn't quite know what it 'just' was... Then he felt Illya's hand on his arm, the grasp firm, demanding his attention.

"No," Illya said now, mouth forming a determined line. "No. I have not forgotten. I made a promise. I promised you I would Top you whenever you needed it and it doesn't matter what else has happened to me; I will not be a man who does not keep his promises."

"Illya…" Napoleon began, shocked to hear his voice breaking.

"Hush now, Napasha," Illya drew him back in close, stroking his head calmingly. "Now I've got you. I've got you and I'll give you what you need. And who knows? You may have saved us both."

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Chapter 11