It was a warm day and why he’d worn his black turtleneck was beyond him. He could have worn a black T-shirt and been more comfortable on this the first day of summer.
And now here he was stuck sitting on the curb waiting while his partner was dallying with a woman, not just any woman. It was Angelique.
The thought of her made his blood pressure rise, not to mention his body temperature.
Illya took a deep calming breath as he waited like he had so many times before for Napoleon. He thought he’d be accustomed to his partner’s liasons by now, and supposed the fact that it was with Angelique that made him more impatient than usual.
The street was strangely clear of cars as well as foot traffic and Illya wondered if that was a good or bad thing. The only sound he could hear was that of a lone bricklayer across the street, tapping away as he repaired a damaged wall.
He supposed everyone else was off enjoying themselves as it was a weekend and the start of summer. He had to admit, it was peaceful at the moment and hoped it would stay that way for once, but reminded himself to remain vigilant for any of Angelique’s cronies.
How Napoleon was able to go to bed with that woman was beyond him, especially since at the snap of a finger, she could kill him.
In spite of his wariness, Illya closed his eyes, letting his mind wander to such a warm day back in Kyiv when he was a little boy, before the war. Papa was trying to work on the stone wall behind the dacha, but it never seemed to get it finished.
Nicholaí Alexaevich Kuryakin would work one stone at a time, chipping and chiseling until it would fit just right. He stopped momentarily, smiling as he looked up at his little blond son who was on the other side of the wall.
Lifting his head up to the sky, lllya listened to the tap tap of his father’s hammer, feeling the warmth of the sun as it shone down upon him.
The boy was sitting in the open field that skirted the edge of the woods, running his hand lazily along the tops of the grass and weeds. It tickled just a little, but then he felt something else. He opened one eye, and to his delight he spotted a butterfly. It had landed on his arm and just sat there moving its diaphanous white and black wings ever so slowly.
“Privet, malenʹkaya babochka” he smiled as he said hello to the little butterfly. Slipping his finger under it, he lifted it carefully from his sleeve to take a curious look before letting it move to a leaf. A moment later it fluttered away into the field.
Hey, sleeping on the job?” Illya was startled back to reality by the voice of his partner.
“Ugh, no just resting my eyes,” he lied as straightened himself up.
“Say, looks like you have a visitor.” Napoleon said pointing to an orange and black Monarch butterfly sitting on his partner’s arm.
Illya looked carefully at the gossamer insect; it was if his daydream had come to life. Suddenly feeling inspired; he began to whisper a poem composed by Afanasy Afanasyevich Fet, later known as Shenshin, a man who was regarded to be the finest lyricists in Russian literature.
“Vy pravy. Skhemavozdukha.Ya tak sladko. Vsya moya barkhata s yego zhivym miganiem -Lishʹ dva kryla. He switched to English for the benefit of his partner whose Russian was fair, but when it came to poetry...that was a different story.
"You are right. An outline of the air, I am so sweet. My whole velvet with him alive by blinking - Only two wings...Do not ask: Where did? Why rush? Here I light the flower down. And now - breathe. For how long, without purpose, without any effort. I want to breathe? That is it now, flashing, Raskin wings. And fly away.”
Illya slipped his finger beneath the butterfly just as he had that day long ago behind the family dacha when he was but a child. He smiled; a moment later the butterfly gently flew off, disappearing down the empty street.
“You okay tovarisch? You seem to be waxing a little poetic. The sun getting to you? Aren’t you a bit hot in that turtleneck?"
Kuryakin stood, dusting off his trousers. He'd completely forgotten about Napoleon’s assignation with Angelique, as well as his annoyance over it.
“I am fine,” Illya answered serenely. This time he really meant it.