rallamajoop: (muncle)
rallamajoop ([personal profile] rallamajoop) wrote2016-05-16 08:21 pm
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The Man from UNCLE slashfic recs

I've been meaning to write up some proper tumblr recs for all the best Man from UNCLE slashfic I've been finding around the web since I fell for the show, starting with three of my all-time faves. It turns out, however, that I can't adequately explain how much I love the work of authors like Cord Smithee and Kellie Mathews without the post growing to much longer than is really appropriate for tumblr. So, once again, I've dumped the full post here, and posted a cut-down version to tumblr, minus most of my editorialising.

Chrome and Gunmetal

Cord Smithee
Superlatives fail me slightly in trying to describe Cord Smithee’s writing. His stories consistently deliver sizzling hot smut, brilliant characterisation, and gorgeous prose (just to list a few). Though I find some of his endings a little abrupt, I’ve been solidly impressed by the plots of his longer work too (though it probably bears mentioning those plots mostly serve to pace out and contextualise the smuty parts, in ways that make them only that much more satisfying to get to). Far more angst than fluff, but it’s the kind of angst that builds naturally out of the situation, and is rarely left unresolved. Some favourites:

  • masks | NC-17 | ~20,000 words
    Teeth gritted, Illya wondered coldly just how long Napoleon had been in the sensory deprivation tank, and how much mental damage had been done.
    And then he hefted his broken crowbar, and set to work.
    So, on the one hand, this is a fic about masks both real and metaphorical, with a fascinating take on Napoleon’s character; on the other, it’s a fic where Napoleon seduces Illya after an inspirational moment of intimacy, and gets so much more than he bargained for out of the deal. Either way, it’s a brilliant read.

  • Leather & Impediments | NC-17 | ~10,000 + 17,500 words
    "I first saw you on the Riviera."
    "We met in Bonn."
    I am slightly in awe that the format of Leather (which tells you the story once via the characters' recollections in the present, and only then flashes back in time to cover those events in detail) works at all, let alone so effectively. I am perhaps even more in awe of the sequel, which hinges its plot on doubt and jealousy, yet without making either party the least unsympathetic or foolish, strengthening the relationship immeasurably through the ordeal. Collectively, these check off at least three of the most gratuitous, overused tropes in this fandom (I count they-fucked-before-they-became-partners, KBG-honeytrap!Illya, and tensions-generated-by-job-mandated-secrecy, even before you hit the jealousy stuff) – but carries them all off so well as to make them all feel new again. Not light reading by any means, but just gorgeously executed on every front.

  • The Boys from Berlin Affair | NC-17 | ~25,000 words
    “I don't want to wear his uniform and I don't want his damned astigmatism and I don't want his sadistic streak and I do not want his smile. And I don't want ageing Nazis looking at me like the fountain of immortality and their youthful indiscretions all rolled into one."
    Post-Gurnius fic, but rather than taking the tried-and-true angle of focusing on the aftermath of Napoleon's torture, this tackles on the dangling question of just how Illya should happen to be the perfect physical double of an important Nazi figure, offering an answer that makes almost too much sense for comfort. Probably the most plot-focused of all Cord Smithee's work, and obviously well researched for all its sci-fi elements (a final author's note lists links and historical sources, with notes of where liberties were taken), this hits all the harder for the sense of authenticity.

    Although the Lebensborn children aren't cited specifically, having caught a heartbreaking documentary a few years back on some of the real-world cases of people who discovered their relation to the Nazi eugenics movement only as adults, I found Illya's reaction is only all the more affecting for how true to life it was, in so many respects. Though Illya's relationship with Napoleon an important place in this story as in all Cord Smithee's other work, I could probably have enjoyed this just as much as a gen story – the character work and ideas here are that good.

  • Bewitched | NC-17 | ~6750 words
    "Sometimes better the devil you don't know, rather than the devil you know."
    In which Illya has found himself lusting after his partner, and is taking conspicuous measures to cope. Takes the unusual (for this fandom) approach where neither party has had any prior experience with men – there is actually quite a lot of Illya having anonymous sex with women in the early part of this fic – but the emotional payoff when you get to it is so very much worth the build.

  • Professionals | NC-17 | ~7750 words
    Illya held his gaze for a wavering moment and twisted his head aside, to all appearances sickened by what he saw. You would almost believe he was scared of me.
    Illya proposes a rather radical method of infiltrating a THRUSH operation, and Napoleon (relluctantly), agrees, only to get more involved in the resulting scenario than he's comfortable with.

Kellie Mathews
Kelly Mathew’s work can be found both at Chrome and Gunmetal and at her own site, though the same stories are available on both. A number of her stories lean a little too heavily on trying to fit in around canon events for my tastes (particularly when those events include The Fifteen Years Later Affair), but she’s always fantastic with setting and detail, and when her stories do work for me, I’d gladly cite them with the best I’ve read in any fandom in recent memory.

  • Safe Harbor | NC-17 | ~50,000 words
    Sometimes you don't have to look as far as you thought to find the one person with whom you can truly be yourself.
    Wherein Napoleon has known Illya is gay for as long as they’ve been partners, but hasn’t ever really processed that properly until it may be a little late to do so gracefully. I especially love how their partnership comes across in this -- the both of them fully capable of screwing up, but ultimately far too smart and far too fond of each other to let it stick for long. Plenty of angst along the way, but all well and truly resolved in time.

  • Achilles Heel | NC-17 | ~40,000 words
    Everyone has a weakness.
  • Kicks off from another well-worn fandom trope, wherein THRUSH torture takes on a sexual element and leaves worse than its usual share of bruises -- but handles the therapy and recovery so believably that even when things take a right turn into healing-cock territory, my suspension of disbelief hardly twanged. This features my favourite major OC in any muncle fic I can think of, and a Napoleon/Illya/F scene, but never fear -- Napoleon/Illya remains very much the endgame of this story. There’s so much going on between the lines in this fic that it took me a second read just to fully appreciate how much manages to hint at or obfuscate along the way. I’d be hard pressed to come up with any other story in this fandom to rec as hard as this one.

  • Knights of the Umbrella and Bundle
    NC-17 | ~15,000 words
    Some things are just all in a day's work.
  • Established relationship fic, with an act or two’s worth of some minor affair for plot, and some good use of OCs encountered on the streets of New York. A lovely, light read.

Alt link: Website (via the wayback machine), LJ
You may want to check out Keelywolfe’s via her old website rather than at her C&G account. Though it's only accessible now via the wayback machine, it hosts a number of other stories that don't seem to have been cross-posted to the archive (as well as some RPF material). Her stories are universally short and often PWP-ish (the longest, A Week of Sundays, is more of a series of unrelated shorts), but so skillfully written and so very satisfying that it would be very hard to hold that against them.

  • The Metamorphosis of Sexually Explicit Paper Cranes
    NC-17 | ~4000 words
    Paper cranes and sex.
  • Effectively phone-sex via pen communicators while one of the pair is on sick leave, but that doesn’t hardly do this justice -- there is so much about their relationship in this little ‘verse packed into this story that calling it a PWP doesn’t seem at all fair.

  • Mulch Ado About Illya | NC-17 | ~1500 words
    "I must admit, this is the first time I've been truly grateful I'm not claustrophobic."
    Stuck together in a coffin, first-time smut ensues, and Illya continues to be a smug little bastard. Need more be said?

  • Call Me Sweetheart | NC-17 | ~1500 words
    Budget cuts and the troubles they cause.
    I’d tell you there’s more to this story than ‘bed sharing leads to sex’, but I’d be lying. That’s pretty much it, and it’s brilliant.

  • Practice makes Perfect | R | ~1000 words
    Partners need to make sure they keep up with their training.
    First person, with Napoleon tied to a chair. All UST for a change, but hardly less sizzling for that.


My next batch of recs consists of three names from AO3 – specifically the first three authors whose works went into my bookmarks after I first started poking around there for fic: Xparrot, Orockthro and jessebee. Largely short-medium length fic in this batch, only two to break over 9000 word mark, and only a few particularly smutty ones.

Xparrot’s one of those ficcers I recognise from way back when, and I’m always thrilled to see her name pop up in the listing for some new fandom I’ve fallen into. She’s more into old-school hurt/comfort fic than I’ll ever be, but her skills as a writer leave nothing to be desired, and I don’t think there’s anyone else in fandom who captures the same take on the pairing I first found myself building during S1 nearly so well.

  • Sublimierung | R | 3218 words
    ( Napol/OFC • Napol/Illya UST )
    "I'm sorry you're missing your date," Illya said, at four thousand feet over the South China Sea.
    Featuring a Napoleon deeply, cluelessly in denial. To quote the author’s note “This is slash, but the sex is het. Yeah, I don't know. Blame Napoleon” – and yet the intensity of the Napoleon/Illya scenes, technically gen though they are, has to be seen to be believed. Just gorgeously executed, I love this one to bits.

  • Discretionary Powers | PG | 2391 words
    ( Napol/Illya first time )
    U.N.C.L.E. effects a change in policy, and Illya takes advantage.
    God, I love this take on Illya, this fic is so much damn fun. Give or take one minor plot point, you could almost read this as set in the same universe as Sublimierung – it captures much the same sharp division in awareness between the two of them, albeit with a much lighter mood.

  • Temporarily Inactive | PG | 2,357 words
    ( Napol/Illya established relationship )
    Tag to "The Arabian Affair."
    "Then prove it," Napoleon said, and that was all the warning he gave.
    Total gratuitous hurt/comfort fluff, with a sparkling character dynamic.

  • Save This Dance | PG | 9,762 words
    ( Napol/Illya established )
    Trouble on an assignment has Illya considering his newly changed relationship with Napoleon.
    Old-school hurt/comfort (Napoleon is shot and makes a slow recovery), and an odd one where I actually enjoyed the subtle longing from Illya in the first scene far more than anything that came after – but enjoyed it enough to rec it purely on that strength all the same.

Apparently a relatively recent writer in the fandom (work all dates from 2014-2015), but so absolutely a credit to the fandom. Several of her Orockthro’s fic are in the top few pages by sort-by-kudos, and I do not feel that's overrating them at all.

  • For Every Good Reason | PG | 7,837 words
    ( Napol/Illya established )

    Illya dreams of fire. Of smoke, of saltwater rising and locking his legs into quicksand, of Napoleon’s mouth over his as they bob in the water, breathing life into him.

    "You’re supposed to be the strong swimmer,” the shadow said from above. The image swam as he blinked his eyes clear of stinging saltwater until, finally, the edges narrowed and refined, and he was left with Napoleon's face staring down at him, pale against the blue sky."

    (Or, trapped on an island after a mission gone sour, Illya must reconcile his broken memory and what Napoleon tells him of past events, putting their partnership and trust on the line.)

    The comment I left on this after a first read said, “Christ, this is amazing. The dreamlike mood and structure, the tension through the early half as you wonder what on earth is going on, the way the answers come together, the characterisation... just gorgeous work, easily one of my favourite things I've read for this fandom yet.” and I will gladly stand by every work.

  • Unit I, Series LYA: Press to Activate | G | 3665 words
    ( Gen • Robot!Illya AU )
    “Look, can I call you something else? Unit I, Series LYA doesn’t exactly, ah, roll off the tongue.” Blue eyes stare at him dispassionately. It’s horrifying how human he looks. Probably because he was, once. Those blue eyes belonged to some poor brain dead potato farmer, or a mortally wounded KGB officer, before he became... this... instead. Whatever this is. He’s seen what’s between those eyes now. It’s metal and flesh and wires and fluid that looks like engine oil but smells like blood, and Napoleon doesn’t want to see it again.“A common Soviet name is Illya. If it makes you more comfortable, and will increase our success in the field, you may call me that.”

    (Or, the Soviets have made a leap in technology, and Napoleon is assigned a new partner. Just not one he was expecting.)
    Gen, yet with such a touching focus on their relationship that I could scarcely have enjoyed this more if it wasn’t.

  • It's a Restless Hungry Feeling | PG | 2,086 words
    ( Napol/Illya first time )
    Sitting there in the dark, something clicks in Illya’s brain (I was betrayed by Mandor). Even as he hears Napoleon wake up, his mind is slipping blank (I was betrayed by Mandor) and quiet (I was betrayed by Mandor).

    “Look at me,” Napoleon says.

    Illya looks at him. He’s beautiful. He’s pretty sure he’s always known this, but it’s different now, on the bed looking up at him, seeing not the carefully controlled Don Juan, but the man on the brink of losing control. A brown-eyed mirror of his own fear.

    (Or, a coda to "The Master's Touch Affair")
    This is basically everything I never knew I wanted from a Master’s Touch-coda fic, with a side-order of gratuitous bed-sharing and a ton of emotional hurt/comfort. Just lovely.

  • The Truth Shall Set You Free | NC-17 | 6,032 words
    ( Napol/Illya first time )
    “Ask me more things, it feels so good to answer them.”

    Napoleon looked up and shuddered: Illya had a look of euphoria on his face that was, frankly, obscene. Illya laid down on the bed and looked up at him, open as a book. “Please. Ask me anything.”

    (Or, while on vacation Illya is dosed with a truth serum. He and Napoleon get creative in finding ways to circumvent its effects. Also known as the truth serum porn fic.)

    I am honestly not sure I can do better than ‘the truth serum porn fic’. Does exactly what it promises, and then some.

Jessebee's prose is a little more flowery than I might usually go for, but it toes the line without becoming excessively purple and works for me beautifully (the great character voices do not hurt). Some but not all of her work can also be found over on Chrome and Gunmetal, but AO3 appears to be the most complete listing. The AO3 imports all have that awkward double-paragraph-space error that happens with some fic, but you seriously shouldn't let that put you off.

  • Irresistible | NC-17 | 9239 words
    ( Napol/Illya first time, dubcon )
    What happens when you can't say "no"?
    Sex pollen, UNCLE-style (which is to say, via THRUSH chemical experiments, obsly)! Wonderful, tropey goodness.

  • Critical Distance & Critical Intent | PG & NC-17 | 1,276 & 3,734 words
    ( Napol/Illya first time )
    Why on earth would he say no?
    Illya propositions Napoleon and doesn’t get any of the answers he’s prepared for. First-time fluff with a side of angst for flavour.

  • Fallen | G | 1239 words
    ( Napol/Illya established )
    Tag for the Season 3 episode "Concrete Overcoat Affair."
    Slow and sweet, with some nice thematic ideas, and their relationship as a quiet background presence that works really well.

  • Matters Of Importance | NC-17 | 1804 words
    ( Napol/Illya first time )
    Just an excuse for a intimate scene, really....
    First time smut, low on context but still very effective.

  • The "Through The Looking Glass" Affair | NC-17 | 10935 words
    ( A-Team crossover • Napol/Illya established • WIP )
    "Did you know," Napoleon said, "that somewhere in this world, it is said, we all have a twin? A double, someone who looks just like us."
    Seems to be an attempt at fix-it fic for the A-Team Say UNCLE episode, wherein an aging Napoleon and Illya meet the corresponding characters from that episode. Unfinished and likely to remain that way, and I've not even seen the A-Team episode that inspired it, but there's a lot I liked about it solely for what we saw of Napoleon and Illya so late in their careers, post transfer to Section I.

File 40

File 40 is – or rather was – the grand old fic archive of muncle fandom, from the days when getting your work uploaded meant emailing the webmaster with your story. The site dates back to 1998 and hosts a number of stories originally printed in zines, in what (if fanlore is to be trusted)seems to have been the first serious push of UNCLE fandom moving online. As of just this month, the domain has been finally allowed to lapse for good – but with the understanding that the whole archive is still available on the Wayback Machine (where, ironically enough, it actually works somewhat better than the live version did, as I recall a number of links were misdirected to an even longer-vanished Geocities version of the site when I first visited some months back). It hosts both gen and slash, some of which has been posted elsewhere since, but much of which hasn’t.

Having been in fandom myself (if not UNCLE fandom specifically) since the days when sites like this were all there were, browsing a place like File 40 gets me hard in the nostalgia buttons, and I’m beyond impressed it’s survived as long as it has. If it’s more a historical curiosity than a true archive by today’s standards, there’s still a surprising amount of stuff up there that is well worth your time.

Field Agent Nataliya

Nataliya’s work delivers gloriously tropey first time/getting together stories, and some lovely established relationship fic as well, with a take on the relationship which is easy and intimate without devolving into empty fluff. Her work is perhaps more emotionally satisfying than technically accomplished – a lot runs very much on shamelessly-contrived romance-cliche-logic – but in a lot of ways that’s half the fun.

Nataliya’s also got some good stuff posted at Chrome and Gunmetal too, though none of her stories are mirrored at both sites, and File 40 boasts exclusive rights to most of my faves.

  • The Chicago Affair | NC-17 | ~20,000 words
    ( Napol/Illya first time+developing, casefic )

    A scientist is the prey and Illya is the bait.

    Featuring former-KGB-honeytrap!Illya (which is perhaps less a trope in this fandom than a whole genre unto itself), whose skills are being pressed into service at UNCLE as a last resort measure. Somehow this leads to Napoleon offering to ‘help’ his friend prepare – and we all know where this is going. Basically a case of ridiculously trope-tastic story played very straight, complete with solid plot and well-developed OCs, and a very enjoyable read.

  • The Arrangement | NC-17 | ~17,300 words
    ( Napol/Illya first time )

    A good spy always had an escape route.

    In which Illya is gay, and Napoleon is becoming sufficiently concerned about the risks he’s taking with some of his hook ups to offer his (theoretically straight) self as a substitute. So, relationship of convenience building into more; scarcely less tropey than The Chicago Affair, but just as enjoyable.

  • The Family Affair | NC-17 | ~21,000 words
    ( Napol/Illya established, fluff )

    “Remember the last time we took a steam?"

    Established relationship fic with a minor case weaving its way through the plot, though the core of the story revolves around Napoleon’s relationship with his family (which is large and well-developed, and Illya’s no stranger to any of them). There’s enough sense of long and comfortable history behind everything here you could almost believe there must be a multi-part fic preceding it that you’d missed somehow, but even here those relationships are still changing and developing, and there’s plenty to enjoy along the way.

  • The Healing | NC-17 | ~17,000 words
    ( Napol/Illya first time, hurt/comfort, warning for torture )

    Illya Kuryakin had disappeared off the streets of New York thirty-six hours earlier...

    While Illya recovers from a particularly intimate and nasty round of THRUSH torture, he and Napoleon find themselves growing even closer than before. Basically hurt/comfort with a heavy focus on the comfort and recovery part, this is tropey to the point of arguably hitting healing!cock territory, but the angst and misery are all very effectively understated, and the fic as a whole is a lovely and very cosy portrait of their relationship.

  • Man With A Gun | R | ~1200 words
    ( Napol/Illya established, light kink )

    Leather and a blond.

    Napoleon 1st person POV, basically an extended appreciation of how Illya looks in his shoulder holster – something I am sure we can all appreciate.

  • Rain | NC-17 | ~3000 words
    ( Napol/Illya first time )

    After an exhausting day fighting Thrush, Napoleon and Illya find themselves at a cozy bed and breakfast in upstate New York.

    Far and away my favourite of Nataliya's works on C&G, this is quiet, sleepy, intimate and quite, quite lovely.

Field Agent Nyssa

Nyssa’s work can be a slightly mixed bag for me – her Illya-voice doesn't always hit the right note, and a few of her stories come sans any sort of happy ending, which is very much Not My Thing in this particular fandom (I would actually anti-rec “The Safety of Distance” for most purposes, which is technically quite well-written but unremittingly bleak). All that said, she does a lovely job with mood and tight POV-work, and those fic of hers that do work for me suck me in something wonderful and lack for nothing on the emotional satisfaction front. A couple of her stories from File 40 plus several new ones are also up on a C&G account, but File 40 boasts the complete list of my favourites out of her work.

  • Balance of Power |  | ~6000 words
    ( Napol/Illya established )

    Things need to stay in balance

    Guh. It takes work to pack this much longing into a fic where the characters are already in a relationship from page 1 – but that’s just what this story does, and will considerable effect. There’s a two-part prequel too, Complete Control, though I felt it a little weaker and wouldn’t call it essential reading – Balance of Power stands perfectly well alone.

  • Veritas | NC-17 | ~7400 words
    ( Napol/Illya first time )

    Illya tries to drown his sorrows.

    One of those gloriously tropey stories (in which the sex originates from a scene where Napoleon drags a drunk!Illya into the shower and for some reason decides he needs to wash him really thoroughly) that I can only take semi-seriously, but damn if it didn’t get me in the id.

  • Nevermore | PG | ~2500 words
    ( Napol/Illya first time )

    Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream or is Illya just ravin' ?

    A near-death incident inspires some rearranging of priorities – and old trope, but beautifully executed. Also on C&G.

  • One More For The Road | PG | ~2000 words
    ( Napol/Illya established )

    Sinatra tunes and a bittersweet parting.

    Not-quite songfic, with some angst over the usual job-related risks, but mostly this is just a touching and very sweet portrait of a quiet moment in their relationship some years down the road. Also on C&G.

Field Agent Mona R

About the first author I found on File 40 whose work I really enjoyed, though it’s not the most technically accomplished stuff – poorly betaed, sprinkled with anachronisms, cliche-ridden, and with a fairly basic grasp of the characters (Napoleon is a horndog while Illya is reluctant and bitchy – though he’s anything but the blushing uke once he’s been talked around, I am pleased to note). That said, I kind of love these as a stylistic blast from ye olden days of net fandom, and enjoyed them enough to read the lot twice – which ain’t nothing, believe you me. If you can turn off your brain for a little while, there’s a lot of cheesy good fun to be had.

  1. The Nothing but the Truth Affair | PG | ~2500 words
    Suddenly Illya can't tell the a lie.
  2. The Baby It's Cold Outside Affair | NC-17 | ~4000 words  
    Illya maintains a sulk.
  3. The Green-eyed Monster Affair | R | ~5500 words
    Someone gets jealous when the partners are temporarily re-assigned.
  4. The Remembrance of Things Past Affair | R | ~4000 words
    Napoleon has lost his memory due to an injury.
  5. The I've Got a Crush On You Affair | PG | ~4750 words
    Someone is collecting pets, and Napoleon and Illya are among the picks.

  6. All part of the one series, from truth-serum sponsored confessions to first times to continuing adventures in an established relationship. The last (in which a slash fangirl kidnaps our heroes) is a little too silly for me, but the rest, if not particularly intellectually stimulating, is still tropey, cliche-happy good fun.

  • The Cleanliness is Next to Godliness Affair | NC-17 | ~2400 words
    ( Napol/Illya first time )

    Two guys and a bubble bath.

    Just for variety, Napoleon and Illya find themselves locked up in a well-fitted bathroom, but at loggerheads over how to spend their incarceration.

  • The Matter of Control Affair | NC-17 | ~3200 words
    ( Napol/Illya, bondage )

    Illya finds Napoleon in an interesting predicament and an odd thought suddenly occurs to him. (Warning: Kinky) 

    A slight misunderstanding with a date leads to Illya finding Napoleon tied to his own bed – you can probably guess where the rest of this goes.

Misc Authors

The rest of the File 40 authors on my to-rec list only boast a fic or two to their names each. So here's the lot under one heading.

  • Jingle Tilt | PG | ~5000 words, by Field Agent Raisa

    ( First time, pre-series )
    Napoleon and Illya take a chance on luck.

    Illya hustles at the Blackjack table and Napoleon falls hard. Total cop-out sudden-cut of an ending and a bit of a wandering POV problem, but a fun little read with a very enjoyable take on their dynamic.

  • The Behind Door Number 3 Affair | R | ~3000 words, by Field Agent Lil
    ( First time )

    A shocked Napoleon Solo spots a familiar person in a compromising position.

    Gloriously contrived schmoop, featuring a rather possessive Napoleon and a very damaged Illya, who nonetheless manage to talk their way through the unfortunate misunderstanding at the heart of the story like wholly reasonable people, and in almost record time too. A++ tropefic, would re-read repeatedly.

  • Bedtime Story | PG | ~600 words, by Field Agent Lon, Jennifer( Established relationship )
    Illya and Napoleon play a game of 'what if'.

    Pillow talk, told almost entirely in dialogue, as Illya teases mercilessly and Napoleon tries to find a film genre likely to give him a happy ending. Short and cute.

  • Life Is... | PG | ~3300 words, by Field Agent Marlowe
    He watched the drink. A cold drop of condensation slid slowly down and pooled on the dark wood. He picked up the Martini and downed half of it.

    The death of a fellow agent has Napoleon drinking alone and contemplating his own (and his partner’s) mortality. Cliched, but well written.

  • Napoleon Solo Has A Bad Day  | PG | ~2100 words, by Field Agent Marlowe
    ( Established relationship )
    My tea's gone cold, I'm wondering why I got out of bed at all. The morning rain clouds up my window, And I can't see at all.

    As it says on the tin, Napoleon has a bad day, for entirely mundane reasons, for a change (not least of which that his partner has been sent off on assignment without him).

  • Quid Pro Quo | NC-17 | ~5000 words by Field Agent Pandora
    ( First time / Established )
    You always hurt the one you love? (Warning: B&D in content)
    Ridiculous OTT BDSM fic in which Napoleon and Illya have come to an agreement whereby Napoleon must submit to (ahem) punishment whenever he strays after some other woman. Far more about the kink than realism or characterisation, but I kind of loved just how utterly shameless it was.

Talesin's Reach

Talesin is one of those MfU writers whose work goes right back to the zine era – her website actually still hosts contents pages and ordering information for a long-running Napoleon/Illya zine she edited, Relative Secrecy. Though some of her earlier work doesn’t quite hit the right note for me, her writing (IMnsHO) steadily improves the further forward you go, anda lot of her later work I love to bits. Her style in a lot of my favourites reads more like what you might find in professional tie-in novels than fanfic (minus the explicit gay sex, of course), which is no bad thing – it makes her work feel refreshingly different, for all that it's now more than ten years old. Some of her stories are up on File 40, but her website looks to have by far the most complete listing, so all links go there.

  • Finders Keepers | NC-17 | ~22,000 words
    ( Napol/Illya, casefic )

    When Napoleon lands in New York, Thrush codes in hispocket, Thrush is waiting. So is Illya. Escaping the one is about toprove as difficult as meeting up with the other.

    Tagging this as casefic, though it's more an extended, very complicated chase sequence – I recced it to a friend recently with "shenanigans followed by more shenanigans, interspersed with lots of flirting over the radio and New York geography porn", and I will gladly stand by that.

  • The Revenant Series
    1. The 'Fine and Private Place' Affair | NC-17 | ~32,000 words

      Illya's a scientist; he doesn't believe in ghosts.Even the most perfect sceptic can be convinced if there's reasonenough.

    2. More Deaths Than One | NC-17 |~24,000 words

      Mark and April join Illya in searching for a scientist at a snowymountain retreat. They expected Thrush, but nobody mentioned a ghost.

    3. Dreamed That Man Was I | NC-16 | ~15,000 words

      There's a particularly nasty blackmailer at work, and Illya comescloser to becoming a ghost himself than anyone's comfortable with.

    Wherein Napoleon dies, comes back as a ghost, and discovers that Illya is the only thing he can now touch. Not the lightest of stories, but there is so much to recommend this on – beautifully written, a fairly solid case and plot in each installment, and it hits all the emotional beats so damn well as Napoleon and Illya deal with the few ups, many downs, and crushing uncertainties of Napoleon's new status quo.

    For all that the rules of the universe have clearly been designed around making sure they can still have plenty of sex, there's been some detailed thought put into the internal logic and mythology of how it all works, and the various pros and cons of Napoleon's situation. In places, the angst over having to keep everything a secret from characters like Waverly feels rather misplaced – proving Napoleon's existence would obviously be a cinch if they wanted to do it – but that's nitpicking, really. Perhaps best of all is the way this 'verse goes on developing through all three installments, as the characters adapt and new situations arise. This comes incredibly highly recommended; it's a really exceptional read.

  • Anytime | NC-17 | ~2700 words
  • When you're injured, and dependent on each other, anything can happen.  First published in Classified Affairs VIII.  [49K, May 2001]

    Illya’s on crutches, and Napoleon’s burned both his hands, and both are convalescing in the same apartment, until helping one another with what they can’t do goes a little far. Feels a little unfinished – I’d kill for a proper follow-up/sequel story, but what’s there is still very enjoyable.

  • "I Took It For A Faery Vision"; or The Forbidden Fruits Affair| NC-17 | ~12,500 words

    Some very important parts to a very dangerousU.N.C.L.E. weapon have gone missing, Thrush is clearly involved, and afellow agent is making embarrassing accusations.

    Ignore the summary – this is a cheery tale where Napoleon and Illya have abandoned all pretense of forced-bed-sharing to develop a habit of cuddling in private at every opportunity, while roundly mocking all those who question the nature of their relationship. All very gratuitous, but the way it’s presented and how it develops (”the game” and their reactions to realising it might not have all been as platonic as they thought in particular) is just so much fun, and it doesn’t feel at all like the same old route to romance.

  • Drunk & Disorderly | NC-17 | ~3000 words

    Even U.N.C.L.E. agents sometimes drink too much, and do things they shouldn't.  Or should they? 

    A drunken Napoleon comes back after a failed date seeking something other than female companionship. Thoroughly tropey and contrived, but still very readable.

  • Confidences | NC-17 | ~4000 words

    Trapped in a Thrush air duct for several hours, Napoleon struggles tocalm Illya. He'd never before known his partner to be claustrophobic.

    Dialogue heavy with a hurt/comfort-y vibe, as Napoleon tries to keep his partner distracted (by any means available).