Cherchez la Femme|
The first thing Napoleon thought as he crossed the crowded room was,
Mmmm, who's the blonde, and is she available? The next thought,
that followed freely, as always, was Who cares if she's available or
not? Little things like availability didn't matter to Napoleon; if the
woman in question was busty, beautiful, blonde and breathing, such
trivialities as whether or not she had a boyfriend, fiance or husband
tended to fall by the wayside. Suffice to say, Napoleon Solo was used to
The woman was surrounded by a press of people, diplomats
and their wives, delegates to the U.N. special meeting of oil-producing
nations, and though she wasn't engaged in conversation with any of them,
she was getting her share of appraising looks from the men. Napoleon
carefully assessed the room before letting his gaze stray back to the
blonde. As far as he could tell, she didn't seem to be attached to
He'd have to get closer to see, find out if she had a cute
face and cute accent to go with her cute ass. Maybe she was Swedish. . .
He let his mind wander to the last Swedish woman he'd bedded. Elka. Ah,
Elka, sexually ambitious, cool and hot at the same time, blonde and
stacked, six feet of unbridled lust--
On second thought, this
woman wasn't tall like most of those Scandinavian types, though she was
built like a brick. . . Napoleon's interested bits twitched at the
thought, and he willed down, boy to his lower body. Okay, not
Swedish. Maybe Swiss. Yeah, Swiss. Probably had one of those soft French
accents, like Martinique. Hoo, boy, Martinique, with her clever fingers
and even more clever mouth. . .
Napoleon groaned inwardly, tugged
on his tie and pulled himself together. He'd been lectured before, by both
his partner and his boss, about how he was a slave to his libido. Whereas
Illya's annoyance merely amused him, Mr. Waverly's disapproval was a
different matter entirely. Mission first, pleasure after.
through the crowd, keeping his eyes open for anything that would signal
that THRUSH had indeed planted an assassin. The intelligence had been
pretty certain of that, but the security for the cocktail party was tight,
so hopefully this would be a false alarm, and. . .hmm. . .there was that
Quite unaware of his actions, he'd managed to move
right up behind her, close enough to admire the gently rounded swell of
her derriere and the length of her legs in proportion to her torso. He was
hypnotized by the twitch of her hips as she moved through the crowd, the
flip of her long blonde hair as she tossed her head. Damn. She looked good
from the back, that was for certain. Unless her face looked like a crack
in a pie, Napoleon was prepared to move in for the kill.
really shouldn't be doing this, he thought, but just then she turned
towards him and he took it as a sign to proceed. He smiled charmingly.
"Excuse me." His voice was a mellifluous purr. "Allow me to introduce
myself. I'm Napoleon Solo."
"Yes," said the woman. "We've met."
She had an accent, all right.
Napoleon had the brief
sensation that his eyeballs had popped out, rather like a cartoon
"Shh," his partner growled, sotto
voce. "Napoleon, do you want to blow my--"
"I. . .uh," Napoleon
croaked. "You're a, you're a woman. . ."
"Will you shut up?
Clearly I am not a woman, I'm just--"
"--playing one on
"Quiet! I'm under cover."
"Several layers of cover, I
would say," Napoleon babbled, staring at Illya's ample bosom.
was the only way I could get close to Emir Rashid." Illya blinked long
mascaraed eyelashes. "Close enough to protect him."
Him? Hah?" Napoleon had the sense that there were words somewhere in his
head, words that could be strung together to make coherent sentences, but
at the moment they seemed inaccessible to him. He shook his head and
closed his eyes, but when he opened them, Illya was still a woman. "Where
do you keep your gun?"
Illya glared at him and muttered
"You put it where?" Napoleon
Illya rolled his eyes. "Where do you think?" Napoleon's
eyes again flicked to Illya's chest, and he got another glare in return.
"It's in my purse," Illya snarled, waving a small beaded bag in
front of his partner's face.
"Why didn't they use an actual woman
agent?" There was safety in pragmatic issues, Napoleon decided. "Like
"April's in Paris," Illya muttered, pausing to smile
flirtatiously at a passing Arab. Napoleon's head began to throb.
"Besides," Illya said when the coast was clear, "The ambassador stressed
to Waverly that it was unseemly for a woman to be that close to a devout
Muslim. The Prophet would not approve."
"Ah." Napoleon was scarcely
listening, because the visual was so wrong. Wrong, but strangely
fascinating. Disturbing. Bizarre. Confusing. Napoleon tried not to stare,
but it was a losing battle. Illya looked so, so feminine. But Illya
wasn't feminine, not in the least. Illya was tough and muscular and manly.
"What's wrong with you?" Illya demanded.
indeed, Napoleon wondered. Illya's mouth was set in its familiar scowl,
his very recognizable ice-blue gaze was the same as always, but the
unfamiliar addition of lipstick and eyeliner and heavy lashes threw the
image off so much that it was as if Napoleon were seeing double, Illya and
Not-Illya superimposed on one another. The softness of his rear was
obviously padding, as was the bustline, but the trim waist was his, and
the length of leg--
"Napoleon!" The annoyance in Illya's voice was
familiar, too. "Stop looking at my legs."
"Well, they're, they're
nice." They were, too, a little muscular, perhaps, but trim and rather
shapely, especially with the sleek red pumps that encased Illya's (all
right, somewhat large) feet. "How do you walk in
Napoleon blinked. "You've done this
"I've even danced in them," Illya said, without further
explanation. "Look, there's Rashid. Watch out -- he's coming
A swarthy man of more than average height, Rashid pushed his
way through the crowd towards them. "Ah, Miss Navratilova," he said,
grabbing Illya's hand and pressing it to his lips. "I am enchanted to see
you here." Napoleon repressed a gag reflex as the man kissed Illya's hand
noisily and juicily. Fortunately the man didn't notice the size of Illya's
hands, though perhaps the glittering jewelry and fake nails distracted
"How could I miss such a wonderful evening, Emir?" Illya
purred in a totally convincing alto voice. "I could not bear to be away
from you so long."
That's laying it on a bit thick, Napoleon
thought, but Rashid didn't seem to notice. "Ah, my dear. You are a
Illya tossed his hair and gave a throaty laugh, then
looked up at the Emir through fluttering lashes.
over in Napoleon's gut. He cleared his throat.
Rashid's black eyes
slid over to him. "And who is your friend, my dear?"
Napoleon Solo, Emir," Illya cooed. Cooed! "He has been most
"Unpleasantly so?" Rashid's face darkened. "Shall I
have him removed?"
"Oh, no, no," Illya protested, his eyes
glittering in amusement. "He's quite harmless."
I'll give you
harmless, Napoleon thought darkly.
Which was the last thing he
thought before the shooting started.
Chaos erupted, screams from
terrified guests, shouts and bursts of gunfire from above. Napoleon looked
up -- the assassin was in the balcony, firing a THRUSH automatic weapon.
Chips of marble flew through the air as bullets ripped into the walls and
floor. "Get the Emir!" Napoleon shouted, and Illya swiveled and shoved the
Emir to the floor, throwing himself on top, his left hand deftly flicking
open the beaded purse while his right hand extricated his gun. Napoleon's
own weapon was out of its holster and then both of them were firing
together, pinpointing the killer with deadly accuracy.
There was a
horrified scream from some woman as the assassin crashed through the
railing and arced downward to crash on the ballroom floor. People
scattered. Napoleon pushed himself upright and crossed to the man, toeing
him to make sure he was dead. He turned to
Napoleon ran back over to where his
partner and Rashid were still untangling themselves. "Are you all right?"
"Yes, thank you," Rashid answered, struggling to sit
up. "You saved my life."
I don't give a rat's ass about your
life, Solo thought, ignoring the Emir. Kneeling, he grabbed Illya by
both shoulders and shook him. "Are you okay?" he asked, somewhat
Illya pulled a face. "Of course I am, Napoleon. Get
Beside them, Rashid twitched at the unfamiliar pitch of
Illya's baritone. "Miss Navratilova?" he said uncertainly.
stood up ungracefully and pulled Rashid upright with one strong movement.
"If you're all right, Emir, we'll be leaving. Your security men are here
Rashid's mouth dropped open. He stared at Illya's hand, then
let his gaze travel up his body to the blonde wig, which was slightly
askew. "Miss Navratilova? You're not. . .you're not a woman?"
shook his head and evened out his skirt hem. "No. Sorry."
eyes narrowed to heavy-lidded slits. He leaned over Illya, leering. "I
don't mind, if you don't."
The color drained out of Illya's face.
"I have a suite here," Rashid rasped in a throaty whisper.
"Very lavish. Would you care to--"
"--He's busy," Napoleon said
brusquely, pulling Illya away. "Prior engagement."
They were out
the door in two seconds.
Illya was uncharacteristically nonplussed.
He straightened the wig and then turned to his partner, flashing a
grateful look. "Thank you, Napoleon."
"All part of the escort
service," Napoleon said huskily. "Now then. The Rainbow Room? I hear they
have a great orchestra."
"Rainbow Room?" Illya repeated, gaping.
"You, we, whuh?"
"Just remember," Napoleon purred, his hand snaking
around his partner's waist. "I lead."
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