the end of the first part
"I need to know, Doctor." U.N.C.L.E./Northwest's Chief Medical Officer opened her mouth again but he cut her off. "Yes, private and confidential and all that, but this is his CEA talking, not his partner. I need to know his exact condition and his prognosis. When he will be able to get back into the field."
The look McAllister gave him was hard and level. He wasn't fooling her, he knew, but he didn't care, not as long as it got him some straight answers. "Mr. Solo," she said after a pause, "Mr. Kuryakin will not be going back into the field."
The words didn't compute. "Excuse me?" Napoleon said finally. "It's a broken leg."
"Broken? Mr. Solo, shattered is not too strong a word for what we're dealing with. Leg, hip -- if the man lives past his other injuries and ever walks again, and knowing Kuryakin, I'll lay decent odds that he will, it will still be something of a miracle. But he won't be certified for field duty again. And by that time, it won't matter anyway."
It took a few seconds to make the connection. "Illya won't be forty for more than a year!"
He didn't realize his knees had given out until his butt hit the chair. Then McAllister was back in front of him, very close. She took his hand, wrapping it in her small, strong, warm ones. "Napoleon."
"It's ... that bad." He didn't even know what he was saying.
"Napoleon, before this is over, Illya is going to curse me, you, and the entire med staff to hells we've never even heard of. Getting him healed is going to be a long, slow process. He'll wish I'd never patched him up. Worse, he'll wish you hadn't dragged him out of there."
Napoleon sucked in air, and looked up into McAllister's warm brown eyes. "But he'll be alive to bitch about it, Cindy. That's what matters."
the second part
"…and Panama still isn't too much more than rumor. Beaty's last report had the impression of something being moved, but he's still unable to get a handle on it."
"And Beaty's pretty subtle, considering." Napoleon pursed his mouth. "Rodriguez got back in last night. Have him fly out and join his partner ASAP. Between them they should be able to shake something loose. Okay. Anything else?"
"One more thing." Lisa Rodgers produced another folder from somewhere and handed it over.
Napoleon flipped it open and read. Turned the page.
"Okay, this is a joke, right? Section Four getting a head-start on April Fool's?"
Light gleamed off of short dark hair as Lisa shook her head. Napoleon had thought it a tragedy when she’d cut it a few years ago into one of the currently popular styles; Lisa’s opinion of his opinion had been a triumph of subtle insult and made him laugh out loud. Now a smile pulled at one corner of her mouth. "No, actually, it's not. I checked out available sources and it wasn't hard at all to find verification. School yearbooks, driver's license, military records; the early ones, at least. The CIA was a little harder."
Napoleon whistled softly and leaned back into the depths of his chair, considering. "Does he know about ...?"
"You? I would assume so. He's been around long enough."
"And he wants our help."
"He believes we have resources that he hasn't been able to access, which is most likely correct," Lisa said without a trace of exaggeration. "The US Army is hardly multi-national or unaligned, and the CIA is hardly unbiased. And considering he's looking for someone who could be behind the Curtain ...."
Napoleon studied the photograph, then dropped it on the desk and pulled off his reading glasses. He'd yet to get used to the damned things. He rubbed one eyebrow. "Was he polite about it?"
"Eventually, I'm told." She sounded amused; Napoleon looked to see a subtle twinkle in the eyes of his Number Two, Section One. "Somehow the message never quite sticks that we really aren't an American agency. But it didn't take too much to get the point across. I've tried to train my people up right."
Having seen them in action, Napoleon didn't have to imagine. "As Waverly trained you."
"Yes. Sometimes ... I still expect to see him when I walk in."
"So do I, Lees. Especially on days like this." Sometimes he swore he still smelled Isle of Dogs #22, even though it had been years and the Old Man had always seemed to polish that pipe far more than he'd ever actually smoked it. "So, the man our questor is looking for?" Lisa handed him yet another folder. Napoleon flipped it open and started to read. Then his eyes went wide and he stared up at Lisa, who nodded. "Really?" Her smile broke free this time, and he started to laugh.
Napoleon looked up at the shush of the door to the "inner sanctum," the small room off the office of Number One, Section One; the one that was so secret, Napoleon himself had never known of it until he'd been on the verge of becoming that Number One. Now, even though there was only one person other than himself for whom that door would open, he still looked. Field agent instincts never died, it seemed. "Evening, partner. How goes the war?"
Illya Kuryakin made his way across the small room, the catch in his stride barely noticeable any more except when he was quite tired. Like right now. He dropped himself into the big, plush wing chair that sat in the corner by Napoleon's overstuffed club, tossed his silver-headed cane onto the coffee table with a clatter of metal and wood, and sighed, long and deep.
Napoleon eyed him. "That good, huh?"
A guttural, Slavonic mutter issued from the depths of the wing chair. "What heinous, unforgivable thing did I ever do to you," Illya continued, in English, "that you put me in charge of Section Three?"
"Uh-uh, that was Waverly, remember?"
"And yet he is gone, and I am still there."
"Because they need the best, Illya, and you are it. Hey, we were young once, too."
Against the indigo leather of the chair, Illya’s hair glowed more a rich old-gold now than the bright silver-gilt of his field years. The clear blue glare, though, was sharp as ever. "Napoleon, I was never that young. Nor, I suspect -- at the risk of feeding your ego -- were you."
"Not after Korea, anyway," Napoleon said, conceding the point. "But you like being lord and master of the info feeds, don't even try to tell me you don't."
"Hmm. That is nice," Illya allowed with a familiar half-smile, closing his eyes. But a weary line rode between his brows.
Napoleon stood and walked over to the credenza, and poured two glasses full from the pitcher of martinis he'd made earlier, as he did most evenings, in anticipation of Illya’s company. Crossing back, he handed one across to Illya who took it with a murmur of thanks and a sip, eyes closing once again in appreciation. Napoleon reclaimed his seat and considered the man next to him. His partner for over twenty years, although not officially for the last decade as far as U.N.C.L.E. was concerned, not since they'd been forced out of the field, Napoleon by age and Illya by injury. But his partner nonetheless. What Alexander Waverly had joined together, neither god nor mortal had yet managed to put asunder, thank you and good night. Not even Napoleon himself, with the bone-headed maneuver he'd pulled back in '68 --
"I can smell the smoke from here, Polya." Illya's amused voice broke into Napoleon's ruminations.
"Did you know," Napoleon said after taking a sip himself, meeting that cool blue gaze over the rim of his glass, "that somewhere in this world, it is said, we all have a twin? A double, someone who looks just like us."
One dark wheaten eyebrow rose. "I've met yours already," Illya said dryly, "back in 1964. Not my favorite affair."
"Surgery doesn't count," Napoleon replied and leaned forward to retrieve the file that had been lying captive beneath Illya's cane, and toss it into the Russian's lap.
Illya regarded the file, then Napoleon, with an expression of narrow-eyed irritation that hadn't fooled Napoleon in years. He took another mouthful of alcohol, glass in his left hand, before turning the file in his lap and opening it with his right. Napoleon started counting, silently.
Five seconds was all it took. Illya jerked, eyes going wide; Napoleon rescued the glass before gin hit the upholstery. "This is a joke, yes?"
Napoleon grinned. "That's what I said. But Lisa says he checks out."
"Bozhe moi," Illya said under his breath. He touched the photograph with the tip of one finger. "Napoleon. The resemblance is ...."
Illya’s mouth twitched. "Very funny. No, 'disturbing' would be more the word. One of you is all the world should have to endure. But, he is quite obviously not you."
His partner sounded utterly sure. Napoleon tilted his head. "No?"
"No. Around the mouth, the eyes. There is something ... hard, there; something bitter."
Napoleon tipped back most of his drink in one go, abruptly wanting the burn. "I'm a fairly hard man myself, Illya."
The blond head shook once, firmly. "Not this way. Not even when ... no. This man, Stockwell; he's lost something. Himself, perhaps."
"And there you go with the psychic thing again. He has indeed lost something, and he wants our help finding it. Or rather, him."
Illya read for another few seconds, and then he groaned low in his throat and dropped his head into his hand. “You will swear to me that this is not a joke,” he said, voice muffled; with what, Napoleon couldn’t tell.
“Scout’s honor.” Napoleon held up a hand.
“Which you never were. Because the setup is too perfect, you know. General Stockwell is looking for his former partner.” Illya laid his head back against the chair, eyes closed, and Napoleon saw the laughter now, lurking in the set of his mouth. “Who happens to be Russian.”
“Small, strange world, ain’t it?”
Illya snorted. “Give me that glass back.” He drained it and set it back on the corner table with a solid click. “And a refill would be nice, thank you.”
Napoleon took care of that, grinning. “So,” he said, when Illya had resettled both alcohol and composure, “the partner – Ivan Trigorin. Did you ever know him? Know of him … ?” In your work before U.N.C.L.E.? A question that Napoleon had asked more than once but had never, in all their years together, actually voiced.
“Ee-von.” Illya tweaked the pronunciation absently, his attention back on the file. Napoleon rolled his eyes; twenty years and Illya still wasn’t happy with his accent. “Really, Napoleon. It’s probably the most common name in Russia, although Trigorin is not. Which doesn’t matter, as it’s undoubtedly not his real one. Hhm. No file photo? Odd. I’ll get that corrected.” Illya raised his head, looking thoughtful. “I had a cousin once, named Ivan.”
“Once?” Napoleon repeated.
“He died, during the war.” No need to ask which one; Illya’s “war” would always be World War II. He closed the folder and let it rest in his lap. “Napoleon, this has little to do with us that I can see. Trigorin's been a lone wolf since he left the CIA and since his death – reports of which, according to Stockwell, have been exaggerated – his employers, the Chinese, apparently, have written him off. There is no international threat here; this is personal. U.N.C.L.E. does not do personal. All right," he said off of Napoleon's look, "U.N.C.L.E. doesn't do this kind of personal. Why does Stockwell think we should become involved?”
"They were partners for ten years. In this business. At their last meeting, according to our sources, Trigorin was attempting to run Stockwell down when the general shot at and blew up the van Trigorin was driving. How could it not be personal?"
So speaks my pragmatic partner. Napoleon tilted his head. “I don’t know, but I’ve got a hunch. Shall we talk to him and find out?”
“Never mind your hunch – it’s your curiosity working here, and possibly your vanity. You just want to actually see this doppelganger of yours.”
“Illya, are you implying I have impure motives in this matter?”
“You haven’t had a pure motive since I’ve known you.”
Napoleon grinned at him again. “You say the nicest things.”