Illya Kuryakin was very relaxed. As a man who was always on alert, it was a strange, yet welcome feeling. Taking a break from his book, he watched contentedly, as the ocean pounded against the sand and crashed against the palm tree topped cliffs. The sun was hot and there was a soft breeze blowing in from the sea. All in all, it was a situation he could happily get used to.
It was the third day of a much needed holiday, and Illya had finally managed to push U.N.C.L.E. to the very back of his mind. Of course, he kept his communicator to hand, because you never knew when there was going to be a global emergency.
Following back-to-back stressful missions, Illya had requested a week's leave and had been granted it without argument. Thanks to an upbringing, which had made him a frugal man, he had amassed some quite substantial savings. He decided to do something disgustingly decadent for once; booking himself a private cottage in a tropical hideaway. The island, though quite large, only had one town and a few villages. It was also remote enough to not be of interest to the casual tourist.
A rumbling from his stomach told Illya it must be lunchtime. Glancing at his watch, he was somewhat surprised to realise it was actually late afternoon. No-one back home would ever believe he could be late for a meal. Having fended for himself for the first two days, he decided a slow stroll to a café in town would be pleasant. It would make a nice change to look at a place for its beauty and character rather than its strategic and defensive possibilities. Illya briefly went into the cottage to change out of his shorts into something more appropriate. Settling for stone coloured trousers and a white t-shirt, he placed a straw fedora on his head before heading out.
Illya had allowed his guard to drop and was fairly unaware of what was going on around him. Turning a corner, whilst looking up at the wonderful architecture, he was knocked of his feet by a dark haired man. With a curse on his lips, he looked up into the hazel eyes of Napoleon Solo.
"Oh! Hi Illya."
Napoleon held out his hand to pull his partner to his feet, and retrieved the hat which had fallen.
"What are you doing here Solo?" The Russian almost growled, snatching his hat back. His relaxed mood was threatening to leave him.
"Calm yourself Tovarisch," Napoleon soothed. "I'm on assignment. I honestly didn't know this is where you were taking your vacation."
"Do you really expect me to believe that? You're the CEA!"
"Hey, it's true, and I can only go where THRUSH takes me."
Illya was immediately on edge. "THRUSH are here?"
"It's a possibility, but I swear Illya, I didn't know that you were. Get back to your vacation and I'll see you back in New York."
Napoleon patted his partner on the shoulder, and offered him one of his most infuriating grins, before hurrying off. Illya watched him go, with irritation building within him. What were the odds of THRUSH and Napoleon turning up on an island which was practically in the middle of nowhere? Sighing in frustration, his relaxed mood having dissipated, Illya abandoned his stroll and went back to the cottage. Flopping down on his recliner, beneath a beach umbrella, he returned to his earlier contemplation of the sea. He enjoyed watching the powerful waves, finding it to be a cathartic experience.
Within thirty minutes, Illya was snoring softly and remained asleep for a further two hours. He was awakened by the sound he knew would inevitably come. Without opening his eyes, he pulled out his communicator.
"Let me guess," he murmured, sleepily. "You need rescuing."
"I would have called HQ, but you're already here," Napoleon answered. Illya could almost hear the smile on the American's face. "It won't take you long; there are very few Birdies here."
"Then how did you get yourself caught?"
"Well. . . I wasn't exactly captured, per se."
"Napoleon, if you don't come to the point, I'm leaving you where you are."
"I sort of slipped into a deep pit," Solo admitted, contritely. "I can't climb out due to breaking my arm in the fall."
Illya looked heavenwards and cursed the day he'd met Napoleon Solo. The man was supposed to be U.N.C.L.E.'s top agent, yet every so often, he proved to be just as clumsy as anyone else. Having ascertained his partner's location, the number of Thrushies, and the general security arrangements, Illya assured Napoleon that he was on his way and signed off. He tried to ignore the tiny kernel of resentment he could feel starting to grow in his chest. His life had never been his own, something he usually accepted willing, but surely it wasn't too much to ask for seven days to himself.
His first stop, after changing into his regular black attire, was a small general store in the town for a length of rope. As for weaponry, Illya was grateful for his extensive unarmed combat training; though hopefully, he wouldn't need it.
It was almost nightfall when Illya arrived at the location Napoleon had given him; at the opposite end of the island to where he had his cottage. It was a small farm building, surrounded on all sides by a wire fence, very close to a large hill. Solo had told him the fence was not electrified, and there were only two guards on patrol. It was simply a matter of getting to the farmhouse and finding the entrance to the underground facility. Illya observed the guards for several minutes and determined that he would have three minutes to get from where he was to the house. Waiting for the optimum moment, Illya sprinted towards the fence. Praying that that Napoleon was right about it not being electrified, he vaulted it and carried on to the house.
It took a matter of moments for Illya to pick the lock and enter the house. In the kitchen, he searched for anything that could be of use to him and was pleasantly surprised to find a head mounted flashlight. He quickly made his way through the seemingly empty building to a cellar door beneath the staircase. At the bottom of the cellar steps, Illya was faced with two passageways. If Napoleon's directions were correct, he had to take the left one, follow it until he came to a cave and the pit should be there.
Reaching the cave, it was easy to see how Napoleon could have fallen down a hole. The only light came from the corridor which had led here. Illya switched on his flashlight and lit the ground ahead of him. Walking carefully, it didn't take long to find his partner. The sides of the pit were sloped, but it was fairly steep and would be impossible to climb with an injury.
"Late again Partner Mine," Napoleon quipped.
It was exactly the wrong thing to say to, the already very annoyed, Illya Kuryakin. Without replying, the Russian turned around and began walking away.
"Illya!" Solo called out as loudly as he dared. "Tovarisch?"
Illya waited a full five minutes before going back.
"I really am grateful for the rescue," the American told him. "It must be down to the Solo luck, you being on this island."
Kuryakin still said nothing. He tied one end of the rope around his waist, made a large loop at the other, and threw it down to Napoleon. Solo stepped into it, tucked it under his arms and gave his partner the thumbs up to tell him he was ready. Illya planted his feet firmly and started to haul Napoleon up. For his part, the senior agent climbed as best as he was able, so that the whole burden wasn't on Illya. He was a little concerned that the man hadn't spoken to him; it was a clear indicator that he'd really upset him.
It took very little time to get Napoleon out of the pit and he thanked his partner for coming to get him. His arm was quite painful, and he was extremely thirsty. Illya gathered up the rope and strode away; Napoleon followed him in silence. Back in the kitchen, the Russian searched for some aspirin, striking gold in one of the cabinets. He handed them to his partner, along with a glass of water. While Napoleon took the aspirin, Illya made a second observation of the guards. As soon as it was clear, he indicated to Solo and they both ran for the fence.
Once he was sure they were they were well away from danger, Napoleon tried again to talk to Illya.
"Thanks again pal. I'm sorry I ruined your vacation."
"I think there's a doctor in town who will be able to see to your arm," Illya stated, emotionlessly. "When you're done, you can come to the cottage until you can get transport out."
Illya was back on his recliner when Napoleon returned from the town. The local doctor had managed to splint his arm, which would be enough until he could get to a hospital. Calling into a bar on the way to the cottage, Napoleon had hoped to be able to lay his hands on some vodka. Surprisingly, it had been fairly easy. He'd paid the barman more than the bottle was worth, expecting it to be a welcome peace offering.
He held the bottle out to his partner. "Prosti Menya?" (Forgive me?)
Illya tried to stare him down, but failed. He had been angry, but had calmed himself down a lot. It wasn't Napoleon's fault his assignment had brought him to this island, and they both knew that one would always come to the rescue of the other. He took the vodka and invited Napoleon inside. Pouring two glasses of the liquid and handed one to the American.
"Nashey druzhbe." (Our friendship)
"I've spoken to the Old Man, and there's a small task force arriving early tomorrow morning to neutralise whatever is under that farmhouse," Napoleon said, after draining the vodka. "I'll leave with them."
"Is there anywhere on this planet where I can get away from THRUSH and U.N.C.L.E.?" Kuryakin asked, refilling Napoleon's glass.
"Here, when we've gone. I've also cleared it for you to have an extra three days leave. Will you be able to stay on here?"
"Proabably." Illya smiled. "Thank you Napoleon."
"No, thank you Partner Mine."
The following afternoon, Illya went into town to have the lunch he had been going for when Napoleon had bumped into him. He'd waved his partner off an hour earlier, and the minute he had gone, Illya's state of relaxation had returned. One day had been taken out of his holiday, but it had gained him some extra. He couldn't really complain about that.