"He says he's who?"
"He says he's a very dangerous agent from a secret organization intent on taking over the world, and we can do nothing to stop him."
"What's his name?"
"He won't tell us."
"We have to know."
"I realize, that, but, he won't talk to us. Says he's got an enemy agent hostage in there. He wants to talk to the man's partner."
"What enemy agent? FBI?"
"Nope, not exactly…U.N.C.L.E."
"Uhhh…wait, what? But, wasn't that just, so wait—that was just a TV show, on what—a few years ago?"
"Yep, but that guy in there is a true believer. Thinks he's one of the bad guys…one of those what of the bird guys, the whatever you call 'ems…"
The other cop almost laughed "A thushie? He thinks he's a THRUSH agent?!"
"Don't laugh!" His sergeant shot him a sharp look. "This guy is an escaped mental patient and the man he is holding in there is not just John Q. Public! Somehow, our perp managed to recognize a major star from the actual series and bag him after he walked into that bank. Our birdman apparently really has something against the other 'agent' from the series. It's him he really wants."
The sergeant took a deep breath. The situation was every bit as tense as it was weird. "He has demanded a face to face meeting, or the man he's holding will die. Somehow, he figured out they would both be in the same city today. He's given us two hour, or he pulls the trigger. He has that place booby-trapped. He may be crazy, but stupid he is not. He's demanding I let him speak to…the actor's…partner. He wants to be sure he knows what's at stake."
"Why would he do that? If it's the other guy he wants, why not just take him? Why would he kidnap the wrong guy?"
"Apparently, you never watched the series, did you?" At the raised eyebrow, the sergeant simply snorted and continued issuing orders, as he waited for a telephone call to be patched through to an entirely unsuspecting best friend of the hostage. The hostage himself was at that moment, bound, gagged and praying the call would go unanswered.
Less than half an hour later, a small, very fast sports car screeched up to the now blockaded street, and a distraught man jumped out of the car, barely giving it time to stop. He was immediately challenged by several policemen, but was intercepted by two plainclothes detectives when they asked to see his id. He gave it to them, and they nodded over to where the sergeant and his captain awaited his arrival.
The Captain chose to open the conversation with the worried celebrity in front of him. Reporters and TV crews were being screened from the area, but it wouldn't be long before they would have to issue some kind of statement. "Sir, let me-"
"How is he?"
"We don't know, sir. He hasn't allowed us to speak to him. He only—"
"Then you do not know if he is alive, or dead, do you?" Immediately these two were suborned.
Blazing, icy blue eyes bored deeply into the sergeant's brown ones. He quaked a bit; wondering how much of this man's "role" on the show had been an act…
"Get me this man on the line. I will speak to him!" The sergeant rang the number inside the bank and it was instantly answered. "Is he here?" The voice inquired.
The actor snatched the mic from the sergeant. In a dangerous monotone, he replied, "I am here. Now what game are you playing?"
"One even you should be able to follow. One for one. You want him alive. I want you alive. Very simple."
"Why? Why now, after all this time?"
"All in good time. We will have plenty of time, and I will tell you. But my finger grows tired. Continue to delay, and I will shoot him. Now, what is your answer?"
Here, the man thought very swiftly. To delay could mean his friend's life. And yet, with a little luck, and some help from a few of his closest friends, they could talk an unstable man down without anyone getting hurt. His plan was one worthy of Waverly, and his thought drifted sadly for a moment to his friend, gone all these years.* He shook this thought off. Now was not the time to grieve, now was the time to act. "Fine. Let him go."
"Ah, ah, ah…when I say…not you, Kuriyakin." The line went dead, as he swore under his breath. Negotiation would not be easy with this one. So—he would think like his counterpart.
He pulled out his notebook and pen, wrote some items on a page, and turned to the captain next to him and swiftly handed him a list of phone numbers and supplies he would need, and roles he needed filled. The captain grinned in amazement. The actor pointed to one number in particular.
"Check with her first," he smiled. "If anyone can put this together in a hurry, she can! She's marvelous! But," he warned, his eyes frosting over once again, "I'll need that list back—it's confidential; if you take my meaning." The captain did, a shiver running his spine. His eyes widened at the name indicated…The actress had been wonderful on the show.. The captain placed the note in an envelope and placed in his pocket. He referred to it as needed, and returned it personally, one week later.
And true to form, behind the scenes, once he put out the call, all those who were in town or could get there quickly, popped up to help set the stage for a sort of UNCLE-THRUSH Family Reunion, which might have been grand fun, had it not had such a deadly purpose.
It was to be held at an unused old back lot property known simply as The Warehouse. Warner Brothers had auctioned it off years ago to the city, and the city had promptly abandoned it. It was remote enough that no one used it, or even bothered with it much. Horror fans might recognize it as a favorite "don't open the door" type location from ages past, but that was about it.
It was amazing what a bunch of friends with know-how and money could do to a beat up old warehouse. They put their minds and their resources to work to save the lives of two dear friends. Within hours, they had transformed The Warehouse into THRUSH HQ Los Angeles Division. Of course, no signage was needed outside, and fortunately, the resourceful actress had located a couple of hundred old THRUSH costumes and other items located in Central Storage at the studio. Her friend was right in putting her in charge…he had remembered her incredible powers of organization well.
By the time the hostage's release had finally been secured, the "THRUSH agent" was so unstable that "Kuriyakin" felt compelled to make a suggestion to him. One that, as the "agent" had ordered the police away hours before, "Solo" was distinctly uncomfortable with. As a matter of fact, he was ready to strangle his old friend. For his part, "Illya" was happy to see that "Napoleon" had apparently suffered little harm at the hands of his captor. He had the beginnings of a wonderful black eye, and a bruised jaw; but apparently no lasting damage. Other than, he noted with amusement, a rather shredded suit jacket.
"Illya" suggested that he, drive them all to THRUSH Los Angeles HQ. Solo would sit in the back, and if either of them tried anything, the THRUSH agent could shoot either of them, as they were both unarmed. "As you can see, neither of us have our Walthers or our communicators with us," he commented blandly. "Things have changed since you've been away. We are not as strong as we used to be."
"Solo" had to hide a smile in his hand at that comment. Precisely what he had been teasing his friend about on the phone the other day…but what in the world was he getting them into now?
The "THRUSH agent" agreed to the plan, and kept his pistol pushed rather uncomfortably into "Kuriyakin's ribs for the entire trip to THRUSH HQ, about 45 minutes.
The man talked incessantly along the way about how he had been scorned and cheated over and over again by his inability to capture Kuriyakin. He had tried to communicate with him for years. He had wanted to cross blades with him… to test his skills against Kuriyakin's own. But to no avail. He had received no communication from the Russian agent. And so he had forced this confrontation. And his plan had worked. My God, "Illya" thought, the true definition of a FANatic! His agent had most likely been tossing this man's letters away for the last several years, thinking to protect him from the nutcase.
"Napoleon"'s sore jaw dropped in astonishment when they pulled up. He remembered this old location. He had filmed here a couple of times, but it had looked nothing like this! If he closed his eyes for a moment, he could be Napoleon Solo, with Illya Kuriyakin at his side, along with…a THRUSH agent.
For the first time he caught sight of the ambulance at the back of the building. It was open, and ready to receive the patient. True, it was draped outside with a large sheet depicting a THRUSH emblem, and there were THRUSH agents and doctors all over the place…but he knew now the mentally-ill man who had taken him hostage that morning would be well cared for.
His eyes widened at the sight of the female THRUSH agent greeting their captor warmly. April had never looked so good in her UNCLE days! The THRUSH agent standing next to her winked quickly at him when the ill man wasn't looking, and Napoleon nearly fell over! Where the hell had Mark come from? He grinned in spite of himself.
The two of them, under April's and their captor's watchful eyes were quickly handcuffed and escorted "roughly" by Mark and another agent he didn't recognize.
Their captor asked April what would happen to the two UNCLE agents now.
"Don't worry," she told him sternly. "They will be dealt with harshly. We have been looking for those two for a long time. They were the best—and the last. You have done very well! You are the best THRUSH agent Headquarters has ever seen! You must rest a while. You must be very tired…Come now…" She led him away, towards the back of the building. Illya and Napoleon were hustled out the side door and quickly released by their grinning captors. "See you later, mates!" Mark disappeared back inside.
Illya grabbed Napoleon's arm and led him quickly back to his car. "Come. It is time we leave. Don't worry. We will see them all again tonight. We have a massive reunion party planned here later." Ever practical, he turned and grinned at his partner. "I see no reason to waste the facilities now that we have worked so hard on them…"
"Solo" shook his head a moment, and started to say something…but his mind went blank. How do you thank someone who did what this man, this friend, this partner had just done for him?
As if sensing what was going through his mind, wide crystal blue eyes gazed intently into dark chocolate ones as his partner simply shrugged.
"No, tovarisch. It is what friends do. It is what they will always do."
*This story is dedicated to Leo G. Carroll, our Mr. Waverly, 25 Oct 1886—16 Oct 1972 RIP