AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
FANDOM: The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
PAIRING: Napoleon Solo/Illya Kuryakin
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship
SUMMARY: Mr. Waverly sends Napoleon and Illya on a mission to track down secret plans which have been hidden in a model ship. The only problems are they don't which particular model the plans are in and Thrush are also on the same trail.
WORD COUNT: 2,525
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for riverotter1951: X - Xebec (33/36)
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
Alexander Waverly sat in his office, smoking his pipe, reading a file and waiting for the arrival of his two top agents. Outside the window the summer sun blazed down, but Mr. Waverly did not feel the heat, his office was cool. Just as he was about to look at his watch the intercom buzzed and his secretary told him his agents had arrived. "Show them in, please," he said, putting down the file and leaning back in his chair.
He watched as Mr. Solo and Mr. Kuryakin came into his office. The former strolled in, his hands in his pockets, his face tanned, wearing a blazer and trousers rather than his customary suit and a cravat in place of his tie. By his side Mr. Kuryakin was dressed, in spite of the hot, sunny weather, in his standard black suit, white shirt and tie, and was as pale as when he had left for his summer vacation.
"Ah, gentlemen, please come in and sit down. I do apologize for the necessity of interrupting your holiday."
Mr. Solo sank into a chair and adjusted his cuffs. "That's all right, sir. Illya here wasn't making the most of it anyway."
"Just because I did not wish to spend every minute of every day on the beach, does not mean that I -" Mr. Kuryakin feel silent as his partner smiled at him. He muttered something under his breath in his native language, which Mr. Waverly did not understand. However from the smirk that replaced Mr. Solo's smile, he suspected he had understood the Russian words - even if he claimed to neither speak nor understand Russian.
Mr. Waverly cleared his throat unnecessarily, it simply being a tool to bring his agents' attention back to him. Mr. Kuryakin's head snapped round at speed and he pushed back his overly-long hair with one hand, as he sat up straight. Mr. Waverly made a mental note to mention to Mr. Solo it was time his partner had a hair-cut. Mr. Solo, although also turning to look at his boss, moved more slowly and he settled back into his chair.
"Do either of you gentlemen know what this is?" he asked, pointing to a model boat that rested on the table.
Both men looked at it. He wasn't in the least bit surprised when it was Mr. Kuryakin who answered. "It is a model of a Xebec." After a quick glance at his partner who had raised an eyebrow when Mr. Kuryakin had spoken. "A Xebec is a small three-masted vessel, with projecting bow stern and convex decks. It was mostly used for trading in the Mediterranean. It was particularly beautiful, fast and agile; her speed made her an ideal ship not just for legitimate traders, but also for pirates."
"Very good, Mr. Kuryakin," Mr. Waverly said, when his Russian agent paused to take a breath. He had no doubt his agent could have continued for minutes if not hours on the subject, even though he claimed not to like boats and was not a good sailor. He noticed Mr. Solo was staring with admiration at his partner. "This is a very good reproduction model," Mr. Waverly said, now picking it up and handing it to his senior agent.
"It is a good size for a model," Mr. Kuryakin said, taking it without asking permission from his partner.
"Yes, Mr. Kuryakin, it is and there in lies the problem. You see gentlemen we have received information that a man known simply as 'Count X' has put detailed plans into one of these models. Plans on how to blow up the world and," he said, holding up his hand to stop Mr. Solo from interrupting, "we are not the only ones to have received the information."
He watched as the partners looked at one another before looking back at him. "Thrush," they said in perfect synchrony.
Mr. Waverly pulled on his pipe and nodded. "Yes, gentlemen, Thrush. Your mission is to find the particular model and destroy it and the plans." Once more the partners looked at one another, communicating silently as he had often seen them do. He wasn't surprised when it was Mr. Solo who spoke; nor was he surprised that the air of casualness of almost still being on vacation vanished and his senior agent sat up straight in his chair.
"Do we have anything to go on, sir?"
"All we know, Mr. Solo, is that the model is being sold by a store named Model Ship Lovers. Here is the address. I shall leave the details of how you intend to carry out this operation in your hands. However, Mr. Kuryakin," he turned to his agent.
"The destruction of the entire store and/or its stock is not an acceptable option." Out of the corner of his eye he saw Mr. Solo smile as Mr. Kuryakin merely held his gaze for a moment or two before replying.
"Understood, sir," he said, his tone was clipped; his Russian accent, as it always was under such circumstances, very clear.
"Thank you, gentlemen, that will be all." Mr. Waverly returned his attention to the file as his agents stood up.
"May we take this with us?" Mr. Solo pointed to the model of the Xebec.
Mr. Waverly nodded. "Yes. But, Mr. Solo," he said, staring at his agent.
"I want it back - in one piece. Do you understand?"
After a swift glance at his partner, Mr. Solo answered. "Yes, sir."
"Why does Mr. Waverly always assume I wish to blow things up?" Illya asked, the irritation showing in his tone as he lay on their bed and watched Napoleon change into a suit and tie.
Napoleon smiled down at his partner as he made a perfect knot without looking in a mirror. "Because, partner mine," he said, now offering Illya his hand to help him up. "He knows you."
Illya who had been about to accept Napoleon's hand, muttered something in Russian (which Napoleon didn't understand) and instead rolled over and got off the opposite of the bed, snatched his jacket up from the chair he'd thrown it onto and strode out of their bedroom still muttering in Russian.
Napoleon shook his head fondly as he watched Illya stalk out of the room, he picked up his jacket and put it on, carefully adjusting it until it sat perfect on his shoulders. Then with a final look in the mirror and a second or two spent perfecting his hair, he headed out of the bedroom.
He caught up with his partner in their living room; Illya was sitting at the table, a cup of coffee by his elbow, his glasses on his nose studying with great intensity and concentration the model of the Xebec. Napoleon put his hand on Illya's shoulder and squeezed it before pouring his own coffee and sitting down on the opposite side of the table from Illya.
Illya put the model Xebec back down on the table and looked at Napoleon. "Blowing the store up would be the easiest way to deal with the problem," Illya said after a moment or two of silence. "By far the most efficient way as it would ensure we destroyed the correct model and the plans. One simple explosion and all our troubles would be over."
Napoleon nodded and said, "Except it would also destroy the rest of the stock and, assuming the store-owner is not involved -"
"Are we assuming that?" Illya took off his glasses and glared at Napoleon.
Napoleon nodded. "Mr. Waverly didn't say otherwise, so yes, I guess we are. But it's irrelevant, Illya, Mr. Waverly has said no explosions."
Illya sighed. "Well how are we going to find the correct model ship among the entire stock?"
Napoleon thought for a moment. "I know," he said. "We could buy the entire stock. We could tell the owner some story or other about being Xebec fanatics and that we're hosting a convention for other Xebec - What? It's only an idea, Illya," Napoleon bemoaned as he met his partner's wide-eyed, incredulous stare.
"A convention for Xebec fanatics? You are not being serious, are you, Napoleon?"
"Well do you have a better idea? Other that is," Napoleon added hastily, "than blowing the shop up! And stop muttering in Russian, you know I don't know what you're saying."
"Well if you took the trouble to learn my language properly rather than just certain, shall we say phrases, you would know what I am saying."
Napoleon ignored the familiar lecture and asked again. "Well do you have a better idea?"
"I have an idea, whether you will consider it better, I do not know. Although I must say that any idea has to be better than your idea of us running a Xebec convention."
"Okay, okay, so it wasn’t the best idea I've have ever had. I told you to stop muttering in Russian." Illya just smiled at him, his fake sweet smile. "I sometimes wonder why I put up with you."
"For the same reason I put up with you; I complement you, I am good at things that you are not quite so good at - thinking for one. Now, as to my idea; we break into the store once it has closed for business and take apart each Xebec to find the plans. We then take it away with us and deliver it to Mr. Waverly."
"But that could take hours. And can you take them apart?"
Illya shrugged. "I have suggested a way that would not take hours, but apparently it is not considered to be a suitable one. As for whether it is possible to take them apart, well it must be, otherwise how could Count X have managed to put the plans inside?"
"Can you take them apart?"
"Ah, well until I try, I do not know. However, I imagine it should be easy enough - the difficult bit would be putting them back together again, which I assume we will have to do."
Napoleon nodded. "Yes, I really don't think the store owner would take too kindly to finding his entire stock of Xebecs in pieces."
"Which brings me back to the easy solution of simply blowing the store up. I do not know why Mr. Waverly is so against it. But as he is, I had better see if I can not only take this apart," he reached for the model Xebec, "but also put it back together. Napoleon," he said, frowning as Napoleon snatched the model from the table before Illya could grab it.
"Do you remember what Mr. Waverly said about wanting this back in one piece?"
Illya nodded. "Yes, of course I do."
"Well, unless you can guarantee me that you can take it apart and put it back together perfectly, you can't practice on this one."
Illya sighed and rolled his eyes. "Well how can I practice?"
Napoleon stood up. "I shall go and buy a different one for you, that way I can get a look at the store at the same time and find the best way of breaking in."
Illya stood up. "You can buy the model. I shall check the store and find the best way of breaking in - and of getting back out again without leaving any trace." And with that, he grabbed Napoleon's tie, pulled him forward, kissed him hard before letting go, turning on his heel and heading towards the living room door.
Straightening his tie and muttering about blond haired Russians who thought they owned you Napoleon followed him.
Napoleon paced around their apartment as Illya sat at the table, his jacket off, his tie untied, the top two buttons of his dress shirt undone, his cuffs rolled up, painstakingly working on taking apart the model Xebec Napoleon had purchased some four hours ago. His partner had been working on it for over an hour now and to Napoleon's eyes it looked in exactly the same state as it had been when they'd got it home. Basically fully intact. "This will take forever," he said.
Illya looked up at him over the rims of his glasses but didn't speak. He held Napoleon's gaze for a moment or two before giving a partial shrug and returning to his task.
Suddenly the idea of posing as Xebec lovers who were hosting a convention didn't seem as far fetched at Illya had made it seem.
Napoleon was just about to suggest it again when Illya looked. "Napoleon," he said his tone testy.
"Can you please go and pace somewhere else? Or better still go and start dinner. I cannot concentrate with you hovering over me."
"Oh, right," Napoleon said and stood in silence for a moment before asking, "Can't I do anything to help?"
Illya looked up again and repeated, "You can go and start dinner." His tone sounded as if he were talking to a not terribly bright six year old. And with that he looked back at the model, frowning in concentration as he picked up a small tool. Napoleon watched in silence for a moment or two, before sighing softly and leaving the living room.
He was just on his way out of the bathroom when he heard Illya exclaim loudly and excitedly in Russian. "Bozhe moi! Napoleon, Napoleon, come here!" The rest of what he said was lost to Napoleon as Illya was talking at high speed in Russian.
He raced into the living room to find the model Xebec lying in pieces on the table and Illya holding a piece of paper and reading it. "Look!" Illya exclaimed, as Napoleon hurried to his side. "Who would have believed it? Look, Napoleon, the very model you chose to buy for me is the very one we wanted." And then he turned his attention back to the paper and continued to read.
Napoleon glanced over his shoulder. "That's not English," he said.
Illya spared him a withering glance. "Nyet," he said. "It is Russian!"
"Russian? Does that mean out Count X is a Russian?"
Illya glanced up. "It is possible," he said. "Very few non-Russians can write such perfect Russian, no matter for how long they study the language. It is all here. The plan to destroy the world and we have it. Call Mr. Waverly and tell him we have it - and tell him I did not even have to resort to blowing the store up. Which," he added, looking at Napoleon, "we may well have had to have done, given how long it took me to get one of the models apart, and I have not begun to see if I could have put it back together. Or," he said, putting the paper down on the table and advancing on Napoleon, "we may even have had to have resorted to posing as Xebec aficionados." He rolled his eyes in mock horror.
Napoleon laughed, pulled him into his arms and kissed him.
Ten minutes later he straightened his tie, pulled out his pen and called Mr. Waverly.