A/N: A happy (late) birthday to chitowngal. Please ignore any minor innuendo I made that the boys are more than friends. (eep, I couldn't help myself.) Massive thanks to counterfeitcoin for betaing this twice, and for not letting me be lazy about certain scenes.

Disclaimer- Don't own anything, hope to have the DVD's soon.

II

They were too late. By the time they discovered the location of Dr. Parsons and his wife it was clear that too much time had passed. It was equally clear that the Doctor had refused Thrush's offer of employment. He and his wife were found seated at the dining room table, a single bullet hole in the middle of each of their foreheads.

"Mr. Waverly isn't going to be pleased." Illya surveyed the room, his jaw tense.

"That, my friend, is the understatement of the year." Their mission had been twofold- to keep Thrush from recruiting the scientist and to escort him back to the United States after an absence of seven years. "Well maybe if we are lucky we can find the good doctor's research. It might be enough to keep the Old Man from demanding our heads on a platter."

"Somehow I doubt that, but regardless we shall search. I'll start out here."

"That leaves me with whatever is on the other side of that door," Napoleon said, gesturing towards the only other exit from the small apartment space. "I'm going to assume that it is a bedroom."

"If that's true I'm sure you'll meet with success. The bedroom is your domain, is it not?" Illya lifted a single eyebrow.

His partner laughed, thankful for the droll remark. It helped, when faced with yet a reminder of death, to remember that humor still existed. Napoleon crossed the room, opening the door to find that it did, indeed, lead to a bedroom. A rather sparse one, containing only a bed, a dresser and a too-large wardrobe shoved into the corner. Deciding that the wardrobe offered the best hiding spot for any important papers he turned the handle. A moment latter he called out to his friend.

"Illya, get in here."

"Did you find something already? That is a relief. Knowing that Thrush was here so recently does not make me want to linger."

"I found something all right, but it's nothing to do with the Doctor's current project." He moved to the side and heard Illya's shocked gasp from behind him.

"Napoleon, that's a..."

"Yup. It's a girl."

Curled in a corner of the small space a little girl with pigtails and wide brown eyes stared back at the strangers.

"Dr. Parsons' file did not say anything about a daughter."

"I guess it's a little out of date." Napoleon looked over his shoulder at his partner.

"More then a little. How old do you think she is?"

"How am I supposed to know?" Napoleon studied the little girl, but found that his ability guess a woman's measurements within an inch did not translate to the guessing a girl's age.

"You are the one with the nieces and nephews. Short of my own childhood the only children I have been around were those at Mother Fear's school."

"Six." The tiny voice startled both of the agents and pulled their attention back to the wardrobe.

"What did you say, honey?" Napoleon asked, instinctively softening his voice.

"I'm six years old." As she spoke she held out both of her hands, raising all the fingers of one and a single finger of the other.

"Six years old. That's such a big number, isn't it Illya."

Not knowing how to answer Illya only nodded.

"What's your name, honey?"

"Molly Isabella Parsons," she answered without hesitation.

"Molly do you want to come out of the wardrobe?" Napoleon reached for the girl but she pulled away, backing herself farther into the corner. "It's okay, I'm not going to hurt you."

"I'm not allowed."

"Why?" Illya asked curiously.

"Mommy said I had to stay here until the bad guys went away and she or Daddy came and got me. She put her finger on her lips and told me to be even quieter then a mouse, 'cause we were playing a game."

"The bad guys are all gone, Molly," Napoleon promised.

"Then where's my Mommy? I want my Mommy." A tremor entered the child's voice, causing Napoleon to feel even more helpless than before. He looked again to his Russian friend, knowing that he couldn't expect any answers. While both of them had too much experience with informing people that their loved ones were dead, none of that experience was with children.

"My being here doesn't seem to be helping, and I still don't feel comfortable lingering here. I will continue to search for any research papers," Illya announced.

"Don't even think about it, Kuryakin. You're not leaving me with..." He stopped speaking, because there was no one to listen. Sighing, he reached for the inner pocket of his jacket and pulled out the slim silver wand. The child was at least safe where she was for the moment, and he needed to report in. Plus the Old Man was a father and grandfather. He might have some advice. Taking a few steps away from the wardrobe, he uncapped the communicator. "Open Channel D, overseas relay for Mr Waverly."

"Channel D open. And how are you enjoying Italy, Napoleon?" the soft female voice on the other end asked.

"Not nearly as much as I would if you were here, Wanda." he answered smoothly.

"Sorry to hear that, Mr. Solo." The voice changed, and Napoleon felt his spine straighten of its own accord despite the fact that his boss was thousands of miles away. "But since I sent you to Italy on a mission, not a vacation, it doesn't really bother me that you're not having fun."

"Speaking of the mission, sir..."

"Something tells me that I am not going to like what I am about to hear, am I?"

"No sir. Illya and I tracked down our missing package but it was too late."

"In what way? Did they join our avian friends or are they..." Napoleon, all too aware that the small amount of space that separated him from Molly was not enough to block the sound of the transmission, interrupted.

"The latter, sir. One shot apiece."

"Damn."

"There's more sir."

"More? Is it possible for a mission get even worse then complete failure, Mr Solo?" the voice on the other end snapped, and Napoleon was once again glad for the ocean that separated him from New York.

"I don't know that this is worse, sir, but it is a complication."

"Stop beating around the bush and just say what you have to say."

"The Parsons had a daughter. A six year old little girl named Molly." He turned from the where he had seated himself on the edge of the bed with his back to the wardrobe, and checked on the girl. She hadn't moved.

"Good Lord, she's not..."

"She's alive. Mrs. Parsons hid her in the bedroom, and it appears that Thrush didn't come in here."

"Good, good." The man sounded shaken, something Napoleon rarely heard from his boss.

"I hate to admit it, but I'm at a loss for what to do with her."

"You'll have to bring her back to New York, Mr. Solo. I will have Miss. Rogers seek out the child's next of kin."

"I don't know if I can. Right now I can't even get her to come out of the wardrobe."

"Are you telling me that you, a highly trained agent of an international organization, are currently being bested by a six year old?" The biting tone was back in Mr. Waverly's voice.

"You have to admit that it's not something we are often faced with, sir," he defended himself.

"Nevertheless I expect you to manage somehow. Speaking from personal experience I would suggest that bribery might be an option."

"Pay her to get out of the wardrobe and come with us? I don't know if money is really..."

"Not money, Mr. Solo. Think of something that would appeal to a child. And if that fails, well, you are bigger and stronger then she is." With that the communicator went silent, and Solo was once again alone in the room with the child.

He tried asking. He tried cajoling. He offered her a handful of shiny quarters. He even begged, though he would not include that part in his report and was glad Illya was safely out of ear shot. Molly stayed insistently where she was.

"Come on, Molly. We're going to go for a plane ride. Have you ever been on a plane?" The girl shook her head. He was running out of ideas when he heard Illya come back into the room. "You wouldn't happen to have any chocolate with you," he asked speculatively, knowing that his partner had a habit of stashing away sweets in his pockets. What kid couldn't be tempted by candy?

"No time, Napoleon. Our little feathered friends have apparently decided to make a return visit, and will be coming through the front door at any moment."

"Damn." It looked like he'd have to resort to Waverly's 'bigger and stronger' suggestion. As Illya moved to the only window in the room and slid it open Napoleon reached into the wardrobe and wrapped his arms around the little girl. She struggled but her tiny body was no match for the trained agent. "It's okay honey," he soothed. "We have to find a new place to hide from the bad guys." As he moved towards the escape route he continued to whisper soft reassurances, which seemed to calm her. The thrashing renewed, however, when he passed her into Illya's waiting arms. The moment he climbed out the window Illya passed her back.

"I'll drive," Illya stated as they made their way to the car, careful to avoid the front of the building and the Thrush goon standing guard. With his arms full, Napoleon didn't argue.

II

They were halfway to the airport in Milan when Lisa Rogers contacted them, letting them know that the next flight available wasn't until the following afternoon. They would have to find somewhere to stay for the night. No place too expensive, she cautioned. Illya smirked. They both knew where that directive came from.

"International spies should not have to worry about budgeting," Napoleon commented as he put the cap back on his communicator. Since he heard the same argument at least once a week Illya didn't bother to respond. He simply pulled into the parking lot of the first mid-priced hotel they came to and left Napoleon to take care of the child while he went to secure them a room for the night.

The hotel room had two beds, and though decorum would suggest that they each took one they decided for safety's sake to sleep together with Molly between them. There had, of course, been no time to bring any of the girls clothing with them, so Napoleon dressed her in one of his undershirts. It fell to her ankles and the short sleeves almost reached her wrists, making her look even younger and smaller then she had in her dress.

II

It was almost three A.M. when the moaning started. Nightmares, given their line of work, were not uncommon and a half-awake Illya almost poked Napoleon to wake him up before realizing that this sleep disturbance was not coming from his partner. The child was calling out for her mother. Illya decided to wake up his partner anyway.

"It's still dark, Illya, and our plane doesn't leave until afternoon. Why in the world are you..." Molly cried out again and Napoleon rolled over to face his bed-mates without finishing his question. Gently he laid a hand on the girl's arm and shook her. "Molly, sweetie, wake up."

The second time he called her name she came awake with a shriek that had Illya covering his ears. She shot into a seating position, almost hitting Napoleon in the face as he was leaned over her.

"Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!" Brown eyes were opened wide, but glazed over with the remains of her nightmare. A single tear fell down her cheek. Napoleon did what he always did when a female cried; he pulled her onto his lap and let her tears fall into his chest. Illya rolled out of bed and fetched a glass of water from the adjoining bathroom. By the time he came back the crying had stopped. He handed the glass to his partner, who smiled in silent appreciation then coaxed the girl to take a small sip.

"Do you think you can go back to sleep now?" Napoleon asked the girl when he returned her to to the center of the bed, tucking the blankets around her. Molly worried her bottom lip, shaking her head. Napoleon sighed.

"Perhaps she would fall asleep if her Uncle Napoleon told her a bedtime story," Illya suggested sardonically.

"I think she'd rather her Uncle Illya sang her a lullaby," Napoleon fired back.

"I do not know any lullabies." Illya scoffed. He leaned on one elbow, facing his partner, and waited to see if the man would take his suggestion. He was amused when the next words out of Napoleon's mouth were, "Once upon a time."

"...and then the two knights slew the giant bird, saving the kingdom. King Alexander was so grateful he gave them each a sack of gold and told them to take a well deserved vacation."

"I think she's been asleep for at least the last five minutes," Illya commented once the story ended.

"Why didn't you say anything?" Napoleon studied the girl carefully, and found that Illya was correct; Molly was deeply asleep.

"You seemed to be enjoying yourself. I didn't want to interrupt."

"So it had nothing to do with you wanting to know how the story ended?"

"I'm a grown man, I don't have time to worry about fairy tales." He had wanted to hear the end of the tale Napoleon had spun, but nothing less than torture would make him confess it.

"Me thinks thou doth protest too much, my friend."

"Stop misappropriating Shakespeare and go to sleep, Napoleon." Illya made a point of rolling over so that his back was to his partner

"Goodnight, sweet prince. Sleep well."

Illya's muffled response sounded anatomically impossible, but since it was in Russian Napoleon couldn't be quite sure.

II

Napoleon came awake slowly the next morning. Illya must have rolled over at some point during the night, because he was now pressed against Napoleon's back, a hand resting on his waist. For a moment Napoleon considered just staying there and enjoying the position, but then it occurred to him that something was horribly wrong; if Illya was this close to him than where was Molly?

"Molly," he shouted as he sprung out of bed.

"Napoleon?" Instantly awake, Illya sat up in the bed.

"Waverly's going to kill us if..." Suddenly the toilet flushed in the adjoined bathroom and a moment later Molly appeared in the doorway.

"You're not using your inside voice, Mr. 'Poleon. Mommy always says that yelling's only for outside, 'less you hurted yourself. Did you hurt yourself?" Her small eyebrows drew together as she looked up at him.

"No, honey, I'm fine." Napoleon answered. "I didn't know where you were."

"I had to go potty," she said matter of factly.

"Shall I define the word overreaction for you, Napoleon?" Illya teased.

"Very funny." Napoleon threw his partner a sharp glance before heading for the bathroom. Deciding that Illya should be able to handle the child on his own, Napoleon turned on the water in the shower and stripped out of his pajamas.

When he reentered the hotel room twenty minutes later, Illya was closing the door behind a bellboy. A room service cart with half a dozen covered plates on in stood in the center of the room.

"We were hungry." Illya gestured in the direction of the girl. "I thought this would be easier than finding a restaurant."

"Mr. Eel said I didn't have to eat oatmeal. He ordered waffles and crepes, and said that I could have both if I wanted."

"Mr. Eel?" Napoleon asked, trying unsuccessfully to smother a laugh.

"She has trouble with my name. I do not mind. It could be worse, something along the lines of Nappy."

"Anything's better than that." More than one woman had called him by that horrible nickname, and it always made him cringe. A nappy was something you put on a baby, not a moniker for a grown man.

Spotting an urn in the middle of the cart he helped himself to a cup of coffee. Illya uncovered the platters of food and made up a plate for Molly with the promised waffle and crepe, plus scrambled eggs and bacon. He made a similar plate for himself, though the portions were larger. Napoleon stuck to the toast and eggs

II

"So how do we spend the next," Illya looked at his watch "five hours until our plane leaves?"

"I was thinking we would go shopping," Napoleon stated as he tucked his suitcase into the trunk of the car.

"Honestly, how many Italian suits do you need?"

"There is no limit, Illya. However it is Molly that we need to shop for. She's wearing yesterday's clothing, and we should also find some books and toys for the flight. My sister always complains that the children need so much entertaining when they travel."

"As long as I don't have to spend hours in a tailor's shop while you debate between charcoal gray and slate gray." Illya tried to grab at the car keys in Napoleon's hand, but the other agent held them tight as he walked over to the driver's side door.

"One of these days you are going to have to take an interest in fashion." Napoleon glanced back to the back seat to be sure that Molly was belted into her seat.

"Not likely," Illya snorted. He leaned back in the seat and let Napoleon figure out where they were going.

Either because he'd been to Milan often enough or because he had a sixth sense about stores, he drove almost directly to a street full of shops. Not far from where they parked the car was a store full of children's clothing, and two doors down was a toy store.

Molly rejected all of the dresses that Napoleon held up. She declared that she wanted to dress like 'Eel,' and haunted through the racks of clothing until she found black pants and a long sleeved black shirt. The shirt tied around the waist with a red silk bow, but Molly decided that it was acceptable. Napoleon sighed and Illya laughed when she came out of the dressing room in her new outfit.

"You are a bad influence," Napoleon said as he reluctantly paid for the clothing.

"It is not my fault that she is smart enough to choose comfort and practicality over your sartorial splendor." If Illya was strangely pleased at the girl's emulation, he was downright speechless when the small hand grasped at his and tugged him out of the store.

"Do you see the monkey in the window?" When they stopped in front of the toy store Illya pointed out the mechanical toy that rhythmically banged tiny symbols together. He looked down at the girl, expecting to find her looking at the toys but instead she was gazing up at him.

"Mr. Eel when are you going to take me back to Mommy and Daddy? I miss them. Aren't the bad guys gone yet?"

Illya was struggling for an appropriate reply, and wishing that it had not fallen on him to explain that her parent's weren't coming back, when Napoleon called his name in a low voice. He turned to find a trio of men jump out of a van and run towards them. Their matching mustard green outfits could only mean one thing- Thrush.

"How did they find us?" Illya asked rhetorically.

"I'm more worried about what they want."

"We could stay here and ask, or we could get out of here and live without answers." Illya looked pointedly at the girl standing next to him.

"I vote for option B." Fortunately their car was in the opposite direction of the rapidly approaching Thrush lackeys. Illya scooped up the little girl, Napoleon withdrew the car keys from his pocket, and both men started running. Fortunately it was a weekday and there were few people milling around on the walkways to play obstacles. There was a woman pushing a pram who they almost ran into, but Napoleon dodged just in time.

"Sorry," he shouted over his shoulder, "late for school."

They made it to the car in time, Napoleon scrambling into the drivers seat and Illya diving into the back with Molly. Before Napoleon could start the car, however, a van pulled alongside them. With a car parked in front and in back they were effectively blocked in, especially when the Thrushies caught up with them. Illya drew his gun and dispatched one of the men, but as he was about to fire again an object was lobbed into the car. Within moments they were engulfed by a thick white gas, and as soon as they took a breath they fell asleep.

II

"I'm beginning to think that Thrush has stock in a company that makes rope," Napoleon commented when he awoke to find himself bound to a chair, facing his partner, who was similarly tied up.

"I would not put it past them." Illya looked around the room they were being held in. It was a rather plush place, with paintings on the walls and colorful throw rugs on the richly mahogany stained wooden floor. The chairs they were roped to were carved with delicate scroll work and had padded seats. If he had to make a guess, he would say that they were in someone's home. They were the only ones in the room.

"Molly's not in here," Napoleon said uneasily.

"Of course she's not, gentleman. You didn't think I'd be so monstrous as to tie a child up, did you?" The man standing in the doorway of the room was small, dark complexioned, and completely unfamiliar to the U.N.C.L.E. agents. He was dressed casually but elegantly in cream colored slacks and a blue cashmere sweater, and it was obvious from the confident way he strode into the room that he was the owner of the house and their captor.

"What do you think, Illya? A millionaire with nothing better to do with his money than fund Thrush, or a megalomaniac with his eye on world domination?" Napoleon gestured with his bound hands at the stranger and spoke as if he wasn't listening.

"Is there a difference? I'm more interested in what he thinks we have for him." Illya also ignored the man. It was a fine line they were walking; they might get information quicker by irritating their captor but they might also wind up with a new collection of bruises. "After all, we did not find anything of use at Doctor Parsons' flat."

"That, gentleman, is where you are wrong." The man clapped his hands twice and someone who must have been waiting out in the hall appeared. Tall, well muscled, and dressed in mustard yellow he was obviously a Thrush goon. "Carl, I wish to demonstrate to my guests how I am going to use the research of Parsons to further the cause. Go and fetch Doctor Immus."

"I hate when they say demonstrate," Illya muttered. "Somehow it always ends up being a synonym for torture."

"I have no intention of laying a finger on you, Agent Kuryakin, or your partner. At least not at the present."

"How very hospitable, Mr..." Napoleon raised an eyebrow in question, looking as calm as if he was at a formal event and was talking to the man over a punch bowl.

"You may call me Mr. Smith. Not very original, I'll admit, but I'm all too aware of the penchant you both have of escaping. Should that happen, I do not want to go to the trouble of changing my name in addition to my place of residence." Mr. Smith seemed aware of many things, taking care not to come within reach of either agent, but instead settling himself in an armchair a few feet away. Illya and Napoleon exchanged looks.

"You know so much about us, and we don't know anything about you." Out of the corner of his eye Napoleon saw the subtle moving of Illya's lower arms that meant he was working on the knots that tied his hands together, and tried to draw all of Smith's attention. "Perhaps you can at least share your ideology, your goals...'

"Your Achilles heel," Illya couldn't resist adding.

"Exposition is so boring. I'd much rather show you." As if timed to his words another man walked into the room, followed by Carl. Wrapped in the lumbering Thrush's hold was Molly, who cried out when she saw the agents.

"Eel, 'Poleon, I don't like it here. Please can't we go back to Mommy and Daddy now?" Tears shimmered in her eyes but she didn't appear to be harmed at all.

"We'll get you out of here as soon as we can honey," Napoleon promised. He fervently hoped he could keep his word.

"I'm sorry, but that's not going to happen." From behind the desk Mr. Smith smiled insidiously. "You see, the child is the lynchpin for my entire plan."

"I don't..."

"Mr. Kuryakin, you are a scientist correct?" Smith folded his fingers together and rested them on the desk, looking almost like a banker about to offer some advice.

"I am." It was troubling how much this man knew about them.

"And are you aware of the kind of work Parsons was doing?"

"He was a geneticist, and was trying to decipher the traits carried by individual chromosomes," Illya answered. It was an interesting idea, and he had been intrigued by the notes that he had read on the plane ride from New York to Italy. He had been looking forward to talking with Dr. Parsons.

"A brilliant man. I regret that he is no longer with us."

"Why did you have him killed than?" Napoleon asked, a sharp edge to his voice. It was only after he spoke that he remembered Molly was in the room.

"He wouldn't work for me, Mr. Solo. As useful as he would have been I couldn't let his research fall into hands other than my own." Smith shrugged. "I tried persuading him, but even after I shot his wife there was no reasoning with the man."

"Bastard," Illya spat out. He looked past Smith to where Molly was being held; as much as he hadn't wanted to explain to her the her parents were dead finding out this way was a hundred times worse. The girl didn't seem to be listening. All of her attention was fixed on the other man in the room, who was wearing a white lab-coat and holding a knife in his outstretched hand. Illya gave up the pretense of being subtle about his escape and strained against the ropes. "What the hell is that for?"

"I promised you a demonstration, didn't I? You see Parsons not only figured out what traits lay in particular genes but he set out to manipulate them. His ultimate experiment is right here with us." Smith swept one hand in Molly's direction. "He kept it a secret for years, but a month ago I found out what he was doing. However, since I am a business man and not a doctor I leave the illustration to my friend Dr. Immus."

"Parsons was a genius," Immus bemoaned. "We could have accomplished so much together."

"A pity," Illya said dryly.

"It was a great pity. Dr. Parson's managed to isolate the gene that controlled the blood's clotting factor. Observe." Immus nodded his head towards Carl, who moved towards him. The doctor reached for Molly's arm, and at almost the same instant Illya and Napoleon realized with chilling certainly what he was going to do.

"Son of a bitch."

"Svoloch'."

Hold the girl's arm flat, Immus sliced the inside flesh with his knife, catching the trail of blood with a towel before it could fall and stain the carpet.

"Mommy! I want my Mommy," Molly sobbed, her face turned away from the sight of her own blood. The tears that had only glinted in the corners of her eyes now fell down her cheeks and she thrashed wildly in an effort to free herself.

"What the hell did you do that for?" Napoleon demanded.

"If you wait a few minutes you will understand without me having to explain." Immus turned towards the agents, a look of pure glee on his face.

Then he made a single mistake that changed everything. A little thing, a single step in Napoleon's direction, but close enough that the agent could thrust out his feet and trip him. He fell towards Illya who, to compensate for his hand being bound, used a head butt to knock the wind out of the doctor.

"You imbecile, I warned you what they were capable of," Smith shouted even as he moved towards the door, obviously having no compunction about leaving his colleague behind. "Carl, carry the girl to the car for me."

"Don't even think of it Smith," Illya growled. "You touch her and I promise that every day of the rest of your life will be filled with immense pain."

"Big words considering that I am about to leave in a car and you are bound to a chair." But there was a trace of fear in his eyes the moment before he turned to leave.

"Obviously he doesn't know you as well as he thinks he does," Napoleon joked as he eyed the knife Immus had been holding, still streaked red with Molly's blood, that had fallen to the floor. With a bit of work he was able to sandwich it between his feet, raise his legs and flick it carefully into Illya's lap.

"Nice catch, partner," Napoleon said when Illya grasped the handle of the knife between his hands.

"A little too close for comfort," Illya said dryly. He positioned the knife between his legs to keep it still as he sawed through the ropes around his wrists. As soon as his hands were free it was easy to cut through the rest of the bindings.

"Like I'd risk damaging you there," Napoleon smirked. He held out his hands for Illya to free him, but at that moment Carl, returning without Molly, ran across the room with fists swinging. It was Napoleon's turn to catch the knife in his lap as Illya lobbed it underhand, than pivoted to block Carl's punch. By the time Napoleon had freed himself Carl was lying on the floor next to Immus.

"Well that was easy." Napoleon brushed his hands together as he observed the unconscious men.

"Easy?" Illya rubbed his forehead where he struck Immus and winced when he moved the shoulder that Carl had punched.

"A walk in the park." Napoleon winked. "Now about that car we wanted to catch?"

They ran out of the room, pausing briefly at the desk where Smith had ironically left their guns and communicators in plain sight. The hallway was empty and without debate they ran for the front door. Smith was backing out of the drive, and in the back seat Molly was banging on the window.

"Duck, Molly," Napoleon shouted an instant before he and Illya both aimed their guns at the car's tires and fired. The car skidded and came to a stop when both front tires blew out. Smith jerked open the front car door in an effort to escape but Illya caught him easily, clipped his jaw with an uppercut and watched the would-be kidnapper collapse onto the pavement.

"'Poleon," Molly cried as she threw herself into the dark haired agent's arms. She clung tightly to him and buried her face in his shoulder.

"I think I understand what Smith was after." Illya came up behind his partner and gently pried one of the girl's arms away from Napoleon's neck. The skin of the inner arm was stained with dry blood but there was no wound. In less then twenty minutes it had completely healed, not even leaving a scar.

II

"Imagine, an army of soldiers that could recover from all but fatal injuries in hours instead of weeks." Alexander Waverly tapped the edge of is unlit pipe against his mouth.

"I'm not sure that's what Doctor Parsons had in mind, sir." Napoleon stood at the window, gazing out at the cityscape.

"But it is what Thrush intended." Illya shuffled the papers in front of him on the round table. They had yet to write their own report, but had found quite a bit of written research at the Italian villa Smith had occupied, both from Thrush and Parsons' original research.

"Not any longer, fortunately." Waverly leaned back in his chair and contemplated lighting his pipe, but then he remembered the visitor that was due at any moment. "Shame about Parsons though. He would have been a welcomed addition to section 6."

Before either Illya or Napoleon had a chance to answer the office intercom buzzed. "Mr. Waverly, your guests are here."

"Send them in," Waverly consented. a moment later the automatic doors slid open.

"Aunt Anne, it's them!" A smiling Molly, dressed again in all black, was the first to enter the room, followed closely by a woman with hair the same exact shade as the little girl's. She looked young, still in her twenties, Illya guessed, frowning slightly as he rose from his chair.

"You must be Miss Jenkins," Napoleon said smoothly as he offered his hand.

"Anne, please. Ever for the past day, Molly's spoken of nothing but 'Eel' and ''Poleon.' I feel like I know the both of you already." She smiled shyly, one hand coming to rest on Molly's shoulder, and Illya let his frown fade away. She might be young but it was clear from her voice the affection she felt for her niece.

"That puts us at a distinct disadvantage, as we know nothing about you. Perhaps we can rectify the oversight by getting to know you over dinner?" Napoleon suggested.

"Oh please, Aunt Anne, can we?" Molly's eyes widened and she bounced on the heels of her feet. "Please?"

"Are you sure we aren't taking you away from anything important?" Anne looked around the imposing room with its grey walls and blinking lights.

"I'm sure Mr. Waverly won't mind if we turn in our reports tomorrow." Napoleon looked to the boss, who nodded benignly.

"As long as you write it first thing tomorrow. And I do mean you, Mr. Solo."

Illya smirked. "Now that that is decided, let us go. I'm hungry."

"There's a surprise." Napoleon offered his arm to Anne Jenkins, who blushed slightly as she slipped her arm through his.

Without a word Illya offered his hand to Molly. She curled her hand into his and they followed Anne and Napoleon out of the room.