Illya scanned the woods for any overt signs of threat. The fact that he saw nothing dangerous didn't reassure him. Considering the fact that they had no less than three major organizations searching for them, they were lucky to have gotten out of the back door alive. "Why aren't there any agents out in the woods?"
"I've been wondering that myself." Napoleon walked ahead, his attention on the surrounding trees. "I imagine Mr. Waverly assured Moscow and Washington that you were being kept in UNCLE custody until a final decision about your status was made. And THRUSH may be keeping a low profile until the dust settles and the official agencies clear out."
"Yes, that may be." Illya paused as he was hit by a wave of nausea.
"Fine." Illya swallowed hard and resumed his pace.
"If you need to stop…"
"No." Illya hurried to catch up with his friend. "I'll be fine once the Pentothal wears off."
"It's nasty stuff."
"Yes, but I am back to 90% efficiency…"
"…so, I repeat, you need not come along to babysit me."
"And, I repeat, I am not babysitting you. I have my own problems with UNCLE."
Illya laughed dismissively. "You are Mr. Waverly's second. He's forgiven you worse errors in judgment than trying to protect your partner. If you go back now, you will have no problem charming your way back into his good graces. Now that I have my memory back, I will have no trouble evading any number of secret police and getting to safety."
"You won't, huh?" Napoleon shook his head. "Someone thinks a lot of himself."
"Napoleon! You know I'm right about this. There is no reason for you to throw away your career –or your life –when I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself."
Napoleon halted, though his attention never left the surrounding woods. "Listen to me, you stubborn Russian. It's been a long time since you've just been my partner. You're my tovarish, you little idiot, and I'm not about to abandon you just because our countries have nothing better to do than to spy on each other. Now, shut up and start walking."
"Yes, sir." Illya saluted his partner. "Whatever you say, sir."
Illya trudged along, alternating between swallowing bile, watching for enemies and pondering his partner. He still believed that Napoleon should return to UNCLE, but he had to admit that he hadn't been looking forward to being on his own. Which was strange, since he'd always worked alone when he was with the KGB, feeling that a partner was an unnecessary –and annoying –liability. But after spending four years partnered with a bossy, smug, womanizing American, he couldn't imagine going back to working on his own. In fact, the mere thought of returning to his old life left him feeling unaccountably depressed.
"The subject is closed, Illya."
"Da, but has it occurred to you that my bank account has no doubt been frozen by now?"
"It's occurred to me."
"And my passport has surely been revoked."
"Then what is your plan? Hiding out with the Amish?"
"I can just see that. You going without gadgets and me going without hot showers." Napoleon shrugged. "Of course, they don't have televisions so they may not be up on the subtleties of the Cold War."
Napoleon shook his head. "Canada."
"Why? It's harder to get in without a passport."
"True, but we're closer, I have contacts there, and we both know French well enough to disappear into Quebec."
"You forget that your French accent is horrible."
"You forget that your Russian accent comes out when you get excited."
"It does not."
Napoleon raised his eyebrows.
"Alright. I shall endeavor not to get excited while we are on the run."
"Good. Now…" Napoleon halted, nearly causing Illya to bump into him.
"What?" Illya whispered. "You saw someone?"
"Something." Napoleon pointed down into a ravine. "Motorcycles."
"What?" Illya followed Napoleon's gaze, certain his friend was hallucinating. But there, a few feet away, sat two motorcycles. "From Mark and April?"
"They would have said something, don't you think?" Napoleon skidded down into the ravine. "We might have walked right past them."
Illya circled the machines suspiciously. "Perhaps they're wired to explode?"
"They might be, but it's a pretty extreme way to kill us." Napoleon knelt down to examine a backpack that lay between the cycles. "It'd be a lot easier to shoot us."
"Careful. It could be a bomb."
Napoleon nodded, cautiously examined the pack for wires before gingerly opening it. "Well, it didn't go 'boom'."
"Cynic." Napoleon held up a note. "It's from the Old Man."
"What? How could he know we'd be out here?"
Napoleon chuckled. "He didn't get to be the head man without developing great instincts. He probably knows the two of us as well as we know ourselves."
"That's not very reassuring." Illya reached for the letter. "What's he say?"
"Patience." Napoleon moved the note out of Illya's reach. "He says that it may be a while before he's able to come to an agreement with our respective governments, but since we've decided to make a run for it-"
"He didn't say that."
"I'm telling you, tovarish, the man is a master chess player. He knows what each of his pawns will do and when. That's why he's been such a success in his position."
"I'd like to think that we are more than simply pawns. Knights or bishops, perhaps. A rook even…"
"Anyway -" Napoleon finished scanning the paper. "Apparently he's convinced our friends doing surveillance out front that UNCLE agents are on duty inside so there's no need to worry about us escaping…"
Illya laughed, his first genuine laugh since the whole affair had begun. "Remind me to let him win next time I face him over a chess board."
"Are you sure he's not letting you win?" Napoleon ignored his partner's characteristic glare in favor of searching the contents of the backpack. "Money, credit cards, passports under new aliases…You're Jon Burkhalter and I'm Michael Simpson."
"Why am I always the German?"
"Take a look in the mirror." Napoleon divided the money and the identification. "Would you rather be Nikoli Romanov?"
"And here…" Napoleon handed his partner a small packet. "…are our tickets out of the country. Literally."
"Plane tickets to Reykjavik, Iceland? Why there?"
"If you were looking for a pair of desperate fugitives, would you look for them in Reykjavik?"
"No, I guess not." Illya pocketed his ticket. "For me, one place is as good as another. But for you…"
"Iceland will do just fine." Napoleon chuckled. "Mr. Waverly has been trying to get me to spend more time with UNCLE Europe so I'm acquainted with their infrastructure when I eventually take over. I suspect the Old Man saw this as the perfect chance to kill two birds with one stone -get you out of the country and get me into Europe."
"Then I suppose –as it appears that we are only pawns in a great invisible chess game –that we should be on our way."
"Ours is not to question why, ours is but to do and die."
"Very reassuring." Illya claimed one of the motorcycles. "I suppose they have beautiful blonde women in Reykjavik."
"And mad scientist laboratories."
"So we should both be happy."
"It'll just be until the Cold War settles down." Napoleon started his cycle. "That shouldn't be long."
"Not more than 20 or 30 years at the most."
"Naïve American." Illya took one last look over his shoulder for enemy agents, then followed his partner -his tovarish - to the airport. He was not as optimistic as Napoleon was about their future, but at least the two of them would face it together. The other side –whoever they turned out to be- didn't stand a chance.