Been a busy week, having returned from India Monday night and catching up with things. Didn't get a chance to cross post the Short Affair, so here it is--
Napoleon hadn’t thought much about the babbling THRUSHie or his obsessions with “The Lady” and the amethysts he had been going on about. The stones were in an evidence locker at HQ—including the large gem that Illya had suspected was supposed to have been part of some ritual—and that only Napoleon, as some sort of “Chosen One,” could touch.
It was business as usual as far as Napoleon was concerned; though it was definitely bizarre, he hadn’t lost any sleep over it, and as he and Illya had breakfast the next morning, Napoleon was already thinking about their next assignment as he poured his morning coffee.
He smiled as Illya chided him for leaving his eggs unfinished (and proceeded to spare him the task of finishing them by taking them himself), and walked to the window to enjoy the morning sun as he finished his coffee.
It was then that he saw the most bizarre sight he’d ever seen outside his window—and spat a mouthful of coffee onto the glass.
“What is it?” Illya asked, concerned.
Wordlessly, Napoleon pointed out the window, and Illya joined him to see over a dozen people in black, hooded robes gathering on the sidewalk outside their building; they seemed to be pointing up at their floor, discussing something intently.
“What are they supposed to be?” Napoleon asked, attempting to wipe the coffee off of the window glass.
“I am certain that I have no idea,” Illya responded. “However, if I had to guess…” He paused and took a pair of binoculars from his pocket to look through the window. “Ah. As I thought.”
“What did you think?”
“Do you remember those amethysts from yesterday?”
“…Oh no…” Napoleon said, with a wince. “Don’t tell me…
“They have amethysts sewn into the hoods of those robes—more disciples of ‘The Lady,’ whoever she is,” he said. “No doubt here to catch a glimpse of the ‘Chosen One,’ at the very least…”
“Great. Just great,” Napoleon muttered.
“Most men would welcome an army of followers…”
Napoleon gave him a look.
“Well, of course you wouldn’t want that,” Illya continued. “Very well; I think the next item of business is for us to interrogate our prisoner some more about this Lady and her followers.”
“Do you really think it’s safe for you to be out there?” Napoleon asked. “I mean, I’m their ‘Chosen One,” so they won’t hurt me—I hope. But there’s no telling what they’d do to anyone else.”
“Do you really think they would try anything with so many witnesses?”
“Illya, this is New York. Men from Mars could land in Battery Park, and people wouldn’t give them a second glance.”
“This is true,” Illya admitted. “But, even so, I think I have nothing to fear. After all, I am under the protection of the Chosen One, am I not?”
He did an overly showy bow, dropping to his knees in front of Napoleon, who gave him a long, unblinking stare.
“…Your sarcasm is really at its peak this morning, isn’t it?” he asked at last.
“It’s how I channel my anxieties.”
“You’re worried, too?”
“Da, I am. But not for myself. Should they be unfriendly towards me, I can deal with them as I do with THRUSH agents,” Illya said. “But I fear what they might have in store for you. I said that, at the least, they would want a glimpse of you.”
“And at the most?”
“They would want you—not just a glimpse. I fear there may be more to being the Chosen One than just handing over one amethyst. We have dealt with cults before—Brother Love’s organization, and also the Third Way. There was always more going on than met the eye.”
Napoleon’s stomach gave an involuntary jolt at the mention of Brother Love—and how, for a brief but agonizing period of time, he had thought Illya had died. One thing was for certain—whatever this new cult wanted, he couldn’t let that happen again.
“We’ll both go out the side way,” he said. “And we’ll take a cab to work. And I think we should each pack an overnight bag and a change of clothes for tomorrow; it might be a good idea not to come back here tonight.”
“I agree,” Illya said.
They were both packed and out the side door in fifteen minutes; they did succeed in slipping past the cultists, but they both knew that this was only the first hurdle in what was promising to be a bizarre and most likely dangerous affair.
And here's a short piece I did, inspired by a pic of present-day David wearing his U.N.C.L.E. badge. The backstory I’ve set up for Napoleon and Illya is that they retired from U.N.C.L.E. in 1972, did some work as private investigators, were called back to U.N.C.L.E. in the 80s, and took on deep-cover assignments in the 90s (namely as Albert Stroller and Ducky Mallard–there’s a reference here to the events of the NCIS episode “Til Death Do Us Part”).
Cross-posted to AO3.
Illya looked around him as he traversed the familiar streets of New York. So much had changed, and yet, so much had remained the same. Still, after living in DC for the last several years as part of a deep-cover mission, New York seemed like another world, much as it had the first time he had arrived there, back in 1960.
He gazed up, wistfully, at the old apartment building that he and Napoleon had once resided in for so long; he knew the window by the sight of it, and he closed his eyes, momentarily recalling the number of times Napoleon had whipped up a culinary delight to satisfy Illya’s seemingly insatiable appetite.
“We’re going to be late…” a voice murmured in his ear.
Illya opened his eyes and glanced back at his partner, standing behind him with his arms folded, patiently waiting.
“Thank you for indulging me, Napoleon.”
“And here I thought I was the sensitive one,” Napoleon mused. He sighed. “Well, I can’t deny that I’m nostalgic, too, looking at this old place. We had a lot of good times here, didn’t we?”
Illya squeezed his partner’s hand as memories of winter nights in front of the fire mixed with those of card games, long talks, and failed cooking lessons—of tender vigils, solemn promises, and vows made in storms but still remembered in the calm.
Napoleon drew an arm around him and led him to the nearest taxi; they both looked back as they pulled away from the apartment building, exchanging glances and a silent conversation as they arrived at U.N.C.L.E. HQ.
The badge desk attendant was one they did not recognize—of course, they rarely were in New York these days to keep up with the rotating staff; they hadn’t lived in New York since the mid-90s, when their deep cover missions had begun. Napoleon’s mission in London had ended five years ago, and just as he had been contemplating on whether or not to take another one while Illya continued with his in DC, tragedy had struck and had nearly taken Illya from him—a heart attack, of all things, something that neither of them had even considered when their main concerns had been THRUSH in the 60s, assorted nasties during their private eye adventures in the 70s, and THRUSH again in the 80s when they had returned to U.N.C.L.E.. Napoleon had firmly anchored himself by Illya’s side and had refused to take any field missions outside of the DC area, mostly handling administrative duties remotely from there. Napoleon missed the field, of course, but he had rationalized that not only was he no longer a young man to be tempting fate in such a manner, but if anything did happen to Illya again while he was away, it would be more than he could take.
Illya’s recovery had been complete—thanks in part to Napoleon’s tender care, as he had always done, and Illya had opted to continue with his mission. And so they were here in New York now, doing their annual check-in with the current Section I head—Waverly’s granddaughter, Blanche.
Blanche took a moment to glance at their appearance, and it was then that the duo took note of their casual wear—their badges more accustomed to Napoleon’s crisp suits and Illya’s turtlenecks from decades past.
“You’ll have to forgive us for our appearance, Ms. Waverly,” Napoleon said, with an apologetic shrug.
Blanche suppressed an amused smile.
“I suppose I can overlook it this time. Mr. Kuryakin, your report?”
“Oh, yes,” Illya said, handing over the papers he had been carrying. “And I can assure you that I am more than capable of continuing this mission. My health has never been better—you can even ask Napoleon, who has been constantly making sure that I am in peak condition.”
Blanche looked to Napoleon, who responded with a nod of agreement. Satisfied, she nodded.
“Very well, then, as Mr. Solo agrees with you, I’ll trust his judgment—just as I also expect him to tell me when it’s time for you to withdraw from this mission.”
“You can count on that,” Napoleon said, firmly.
Blanche gave them both her blessing and the duo then left her office, pausing at their old office for a while until it was time for them to head back to the airport.
“I do feel guilty, you know,” Illya said, after a while. “I’m still doing fieldwork, yet you’ve been doing administrative work for the past five years…”
“It was my choice,” Napoleon insisted. “Just like how staying with this mission is yours. Maybe I’m not out in the field anymore, but, I’m helping you. And I do get to have a few little field missions time and again. That gives me the adrenaline rush I need, and I’m still home in time to have dinner with you.”
Illya gently gripped his hand again.
“And I enjoy that very much,” he insisted. “Although, tonight, would you prefer to have dinner out? My treat.”
“Sure, Tovarisch,” Napoleon said, with a grin.
Though much had changed with the passage of time, much still remained the same—and their bond, still present, was stronger than ever before.