"Are you all right, Mr. Solo?"
The question broke into a somber mood, and the CEA was almost embarrassed at having been caught in one. He was the man who could win people over with a smile and an eternally optimistic outlook.
"Oh, uh…yes, I'm really… I'm fine. Thank you. I'm just a little tired, Rosemary".
He lied. He wasn't fine, nor was he tired. Well, maybe mentally tired. That happened a lot to the section two people. How many times can a person go out in hopes of righting wrongs and saving the innocents, only to be met with another onslaught of the worst that humanity can offer?
He didn't have an answer; he just kept going out there and hoping it would make a difference.
"Would you ever tell her the truth?"
That voice unnerved him, sometimes, in spite of the comfort of hearing it. He answered with a question of his own.
"Do you? Ever tell the truth, I mean".
His expression didn't change, but the blue eyes deepened as the Russian considered the question. He knew what Napoleon meant; did he ever let down his guard and admit his weaknesses. How could they?
"I do as often as you're likely to. Who exactly needs to know our state of mind? If we tell the secretaries, then who will they tell? It may offer a sliver of comfort at that moment, but then what?"
Napoleon shrugged his shoulders. They did a job that only a small group of people even knew about, let alone understood. They didn't have wives and families to offer love or companionship at the end of their grueling days. A man who had a hard day at the office could at least look forward to a home cooked meal and maybe something to ease his pain in the waning hours of the day or night.
What did UNCLE's finest have?
Illya had once remarked that they had each other. At the time it seemed like a joke. Well, it wasn't much of a joke, and Napoleon remembered turning away from his friend, a disgusted look marring his features as he momentarily gave in to the dearth of comfort in his life.
But now he looked again at his partner…his friend. Did he think his life could be normal? He had given that up when he signed on with the U.N.C.L.E. Had Illya's life ever been normal? He wondered now, looking at the bright blue eyes that were watching him, worriedly it seemed.
His reaction to Illya's pronouncement of dedication and friendship hadn't satisfied him on that day. But it had come from someone whose country was a footnote in the life he now lived; his own family a thing of the past. It had meant something to him as he looked at his friend and pondered the reaction it elicited.
Napoleon had turned away from him and devalued what was being offered by considering it somehow less than what other people viewed as normal.
Illya had meant it, he now realized. And it had been a generous and gracious offer of a friendship that underscored everything he did; it traveled with him to countries around the globe, and it never failed.
How could life be lacking when a man had a friend like that?
"You know, tovarich, there's a place not far from here that specializes in homestyle Italian dishes, and limoncello on ice. What do you say? My treat".
He held out the meal as an offering, even though Illya didn't know one was required. He was just glad to see some mirth come back into his friend's eyes. Napoleon without a smile in his eyes was sad, indeed. No one else could make his Russian soul release it's weight and angst faster than his friend's bright outlook.
"Do you think they have any vodka to mix with the limoncello?"
The American smiled and clapped his partner on the back as they headed for the door, no more gloom or recriminations for what he didn't have. Napoleon had his friend. It didn't get much better than that.