UNCLE agents encounter many perils and endless opportunities for combating evil. They also have to fend off the imaginations of writers of fanfiction. I overheard this conversation recently between our favorite Russian and American agents.

"Napoleon, tell me this: why is it that I'm the one who always ends up battered and bruised, clinging to life or deranged out of my mind with Thrush mind control drugs? Hmmm…why me?"

The question nagged at him constantly, for, no matter who wrote the story or where it took place, it seemed that it was always he, the small blond agent (according to that description) who continually had to suffer the most damaging, humiliating and near death experiences.

Napoleon thought it over, considering all of the tales he'd read and heard about, and it was true. His Russian partner was right. He supposed there was a legitimate gripe there, although he personally felt as though his depiction as a suave, hot blooded lover was quite accurate. His many dalliances with women were, to his recollection, fairly in keeping with his character and personality.

"Sorry about that, tovarisch. I know you've taken more than your fair share of abuse lately. I guess it's the Russian thing, that and the blue eyes. You do have a way of appearing sort of, shall we say, vulnerable. More so than I, which may have a little bit to do with the fact that you're not as tall', he had to smile at that, just a little.

"And, the hair business. It makes you look younger, and therefore you elicit more sympathy, I suppose".

"It isn't fair', Illya let his chin rest in his hands, his blue eyes doing exactly what he was complaining about. When he looked up they were similar to a Siamese cat, and slightly crossed. He had to admit, that was sort of cute. Still, he had a gripe.

"I just don't get why they want to see me suffer. And, be naked. I'm always showing up without my clothes on. Have they no sense of decency about how I feel about all of this?"

"You know, I have paid attention to that. I wonder why they think you look better naked than I do?" That was a puzzle that could lead to a good pout.

The Russian lifted his head and looked long and hard at his partner. Maybe he was taking it too hard. If Napoleon could tolerate being exposed (oh, a pun; he was getting the hang of this), repeatedly for his lack of discretion concerning all of the women who paraded across the page, then perhaps he should not take it so badly.

All anyone seemed to want from him was his brooding Russian soul. Well, that and a little beefcake, which was surprising since they kept describing him as small and pale. He wasn't that pale… Slavic perhaps, and the dreaded Aryan references would forever mark him it seemed.

Illya was glad about the hair though, all of that running his fingers through his hair. He liked his hair.

So, he supposed it was comforting, in an odd sort of way, that people still cared, still considered their jobs important and the U.N.C.L.E. organization relevant.

"I suppose I shouldn't complain. After all, they keep us active and alive. A few bruises and the occasional shirtless scene isn't too bad an exchange for still being around'.

"How about a drink, Napoleon. After nearly fifty years, they still haven't retired us".

"k vashyeĭ dolgoĭ zhizni, to your long life"

They toasted themselves into near oblivion, consuming copious amounts of vodka and nothing else. The hours evaporated as surely as had the years behind them. All was well, the world safe for another day, at least.

So they remain, endearing and enduring: a small blond Russian and his handsome American friend, ready to turn the next page.