A RUSSIAN IN AMERICA
Set before the series began.
Illya isn't sure he made the right decision about joining U.N.C.L.E. He is reconsidering his future when Napoleon steps in.
A first time story.
Written: September 2010. Word count: 1,200.
Illya dumped the last of the boxes that contained his meager collection of belongings on the somewhat battered coffee-table and looked around the living room of the apartment he would be calling 'home' for as long as he remained with U.N.C.L.E. in America. At the moment he was not at all certain that would be any length of time.
He dug into one of the boxes and pulled out a bottle of high-proof vodka, unscrewed the top and took a long swallow straight from the bottle. He preferred it chilled, but for now it sufficed; it did its job.
He sank down onto the settee and was somewhat concerned to hear it creaking beneath him. U.N.C.L.E. has found the sparsely furnished apartment for him and had fitted the various security devices. Not that Illya intended to rely solely on U.N.C.L.E.'s security; he wanted to ensure he was safe from all potential intruders.
He took another swallow of the room temperature vodka and thought back over the six weeks he had been working for U.N.C.L.E. in New York. It had not been a particularly good six weeks and that was putting it mildly. He was of course used to a degree of xenophobia. However, he had imagined, now he realized somewhat naively, that given the global nature of U.N.C.L.E., the fact that he was Russian would not matter. How wrong he had been.
People did not quite press themselves against walls as he walked by, but they gave him a wide berth. He overheard things he had no doubt he was meant to overhear and more than one person said things directly to him. Others pointedly ignored him, choosing only to speak to his partner. He was left in no doubt that a Russian in America at the height of the Cold War was not a desirable thing to be.
The only person who treated him as a fellow human being and not the enemy, was Alexander Waverly, a man whom Illya already respected highly, and not just because of the way he treated him.
And the only other person who was always polite to him was his partner - Napoleon Solo. However, it was the kind of politeness that occasionally made Illya wish for rudeness. He knew he could be icy and aloof when dealing with people, but Napoleon took it to another level.
Within seconds of being introduced to Napoleon, Illya knew the partnership was neither asked for nor desired. Napoleon was polite, gracious even; for the most part he addressed him as 'Illya', but there had never been the faintest hint of warmth from him. Normally that would not trouble Illya, he was used to it, but Napoleon was the man with whom he spent a considerable number of hours each day. He was also the man to whom Illya had felt an instant attraction, which given Napoleon's 'nature' was absurd.
He assumed that despite the polite, icy distain with which Napoleon treated him and the fact it was clear Napoleon did not like him, did not wish to be partnered with him, Napoleon must at some basic level at least trust him. They were, after all, reliant on one another for their lives.
He sighed and took a third swallow of vodka before standing up. It was time he stopped thinking about Napoleon and got on with putting his belongs away. After all, he doubted his partner ever spared him a thought once they were away from the office.
As he put the vodka in the icebox, his books on the rickety bookcase and his jazz records under the bed, he made a decision. He would give it another two months and then, if nothing improved, at least with Napoleon, he would talk to Mr. Waverly about the possibility of moving to another office.
TWO MONTHS LATER
"He's asked for what?"
"A transfer to another office within U.N.C.L.E."
"But why? He's only been here for a couple of months."
Alexander Waverly regarded Napoleon impassively. "Mr. Kuryakin has actually been with us for some three and a half months, Mr. Solo. And as for why, I suggest the fact you are not aware of Mr. Kuryakin's reasons for requesting a transfer, might be part of the reason he has requested one."
Napoleon frowned as he stared at his boss. Just occasionally he thought the elderly Brit deliberately chose to speak in riddles. "Did he tell you why he wants a transfer, sir?"
"What do you think, Mr. Solo?" Mr. Waverly watched Napoleon and pulled on his pipe.
Of course he wouldn't have done, the damn Russian was inscrutable at times, or rather all the time. "I know some people haven't treated him as well as they might. But he's a Russian in America. I didn't think he was that sensitive."
In fact he tried hard, he tried very hard, not to think of Illya Kuryakin at all. To do so was far too dangerous. Because thinking about Illya led to thinking about what he wanted to - The sound of Alexander Waverly gently clearing his throat interrupted his thoughts.
For a moment Mr. Waverly didn't speak, then he took his glasses off, and put his pipe down. "Is it just some people, Mr. Solo?" he asked quietly. His tone and his expression didn't contain a hint of accusation; he was still the mild man Napoleon had worked with for many years. However, the seven words jolted him.
He stood up. "I'll sort it out, sir."
"I would appreciate that, Mr. Solo. We are far better with Mr. Kuryakin here than without him."
Napoleon nodded, turned on his heel and headed back to the small office he shared with Illya. He wasn't certain what he was going to say, he was going to just follow instincts.
He found Illya working at his desk. "Were you going to tell me yourself?"
Illya looked up; for a moment he was silent. Then he gave a half shrug. "It seems there is no need. Mr. Waverly has -"
"Mr. Waverly's not my partner," Napoleon said, moving closer to Illya's desk. "You are?"
Illya put his head back and met Napoleon's stare. "Am I?"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Now Illya stood up. "Just that in the three months I have been here you have not treated me -"
"And two weeks." Napoleon hadn't intended to say that and wasn't surprised to see Illya raise his eyebrows.
Then Illya shrugged slightly. "And two weeks, I was not aware you were counting." Napoleon didn't reply. After a moment Illya continued to speak. "We are different, Napoleon. You are American, I am Russian. You -" Illya came to a spluttering halt as Napoleon kissed him.
The kiss lasted a few seconds only, before Illya yanked himself away and launched into rapid fire Russian, none of which Napoleon understood. As well as speak, Illya began to pace around the small office, gesticulating wildly.
Napoleon leaned back against the filing cabinet and watched his partner until he finally came to a halt, physically and verbally. "Does that mean you're staying?" Napoleon asked, unfolding his arms and standing his ground as Illya stalked towards him.
He didn't understand Illya's verbal reply, but he understood the action.
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