He knew there would be payback at some point, but right now it was worth anything his partner might dish out. Seeing Napoleon like this, fully dressed and soaking wet, in public view; and all of it with a smile on his face.

Illya had roused himself from a moment of reverie and old memories; had seen his friend watching him and, he was certain, wondering. Would Napoleon never stop worrying about him and his state of mind? Russians were born to brood. It was a national birthright, and Napoleon needed to understand it, or at the very least allow it.

Then, in an explosion of brilliance and mischief, the thought had occurred to him that, if Napoleon were occupied with something other than him… well, now it was settled, anyway.

The dark haired American was soaking wet from a quick and unprovoked dunking in the Atlantic Ocean. Illya was wet as well, the thin white shirt now barely clinging to the sturdy body. Napoleon's suit, having survived a Thrush encounter, was now probably ruined by his own friend and partner.

But, that somber moment of observation had needed to be broken, he supposed. Watching Illya sometimes drove him into his own type of melancholy; they never compared their histories, but the one they shared seemed less full, somehow, because of that lack. It wasn't trust or honesty at stake. And in the middle of that thought, the Russian had attacked!

At first it was simply an invitation to take off his shoes and walk on the beach for a bit; a benign sort of activity and certainly nothing to provoke anxiety about what the blond might have in mind. But when it came it was explosive and, thinking back, somehow thrilling. They earned their keep in the world by battling the forces of evil and surviving all that it entailed; but here on this beach, with his partner's mischievous grin and sparkling blue eyes that reflected the water beyond, his energies had all coalesced in the frigid waters as he was thrown, bodily, into a softly undulating surf, fully clothed.

What was it about fun that could provoke a racing heart and a sense of exhilaration? Napoleon knew how to have alleviate the stress of his work, but this was something new, and he was glad for his usually stoic partner's stroke of abandon.

It was good to be undone.