Napoleon was whistling to himself while folding laundry. It wasn’t so much that he enjoyed doing laundry. It usually had quite the opposite effect upon him and he avoided it like the proverbial plague, but the season had infected him and the music never seemed to leave his head these days.
Outside the snow was drifting down, both he and Illya had a long weekend ahead of them, and for once, everything seemed to be calm and serene.
“I wonder how long that’ll last,” he said to his reflection. His reflection, wisely, didn’t answer back. Illya usually took care of the laundry, but Napoleon wanted to surprise him.
Napoleon held up a black turtleneck and smiled, then looking around to make sure he was unobserved by even the cat, he hugged it to him. It wasn’t quite as good as hugging the real thing, but it still made him smile. Even after all their years together, first as partner, then as friends and finally lovers, there were moments when Napoleon wanted to pinch himself. Life simply couldn’t be this good – at least not to a couple of old broken down war horses like Illya and himself. It just didn’t seem possible.
Napoleon picked up a stack of Illya’s socks and carried them to his underwear drawer. He set them down, and then decided that instead of just leaving them, he’d take that last step and actually put them away.
That was when he found it, carefully tucked away in a corner of the drawer.
“Napoleon, I’m home! I got everything on the…” Illya’s voice trailed off and a moment later he appeared in the bedroom doorway. “Napoleon? What’s wrong?”
“Why would you keep this from me?” Napoleon held the yarmulke, Star of David medallion, and prayer shawl on his lap. “After everything we’ve been through, why wouldn’t you tell me?”
Illya sat down beside his mate of many years and ran his hand reverently over the cap. “I wanted to, but the timing was never right and then as time went on, well, it just didn’t seem important.”
“Ever since I’ve known you, you’ve celebrated Christmas with me… and never once did you think to mention that maybe it was Hanukkah you should be observing.”
Illya unbuttoned his coat and shrugged it off. “At first, I tried to, going to temple, and observing the holy days, but with UNCLE it just became impossible. Then I came to realize that perhaps it was God’s will that I follow this path and I internalized my faith. It seemed to me that God isn’t as caught up in the pomp and circumstance as his worshippers are.”
“But why didn’t…”
“Napoleon, you make it sound as if I’ve jilted you. I’m the man I always have been and I will always be at your side.”
“But you lied to me. I’ve never held anything back from you. You are the only person I’ve ever been totally honest with.”
Illya took the yarmulke and shawl out of his partner’s hands and set them aside. He slipped the medallion over his head and then he wrapped his own hands around Napoleon’s. “Napoleon, listen to me.” He paused and waited for eye contact. “If I am guilty of anything, it’s an omission, not a lie. You never asked me once about my religion.”
“I just figured that you were an atheist.”
“And I let you believe that because it was easier and less messy. I figured God would let me know what to do when, although I have to confess I wasn’t expecting it to be on Christmas Eve.” Illya gently squeezed Napoleon’s fingers. “I love you, Napoleon, and nothing could ever change that. I’m not asking for you to change, either.”
“But wouldn’t you…?”
Illya interrupted him with a kiss. “No, I wouldn’t and, for the record, I don’t think God would, either. After all these years, Napoleon, I don’t think he has a problem at all.”
Napoleon leaned back and took Illya with him. He slid his hand beneath Illya’s shirt and tugged it over his head. He grinned as the action created havoc with the blond hair. “At least there’s one thing we’ll never have to worry about.”
“I can think of many things at the moment, but what is yours?”
“At least we won’t have to worry about how to raise the kids.”
“God in his infinite wisdom. אלוהים הוא אהבה.”
Napoleon smiled. “Meaning?”
“Love is God, technically.” Illya kissed him again and caressed Napoleon’s cheek. “Now I need to get up and go put the groceries away or the ice cream will melt.’