Some days I just do not want to get on the next plane and head into the middle of some mindless plot to ruin the world. Some days I want to not be expendable, or invincible or any other word that ends in ble.
I think certifiable is more accurate, considering the life I have led.
It used to be easier to proclaim myself at the beck and call of UNCLE, of Waverly and his demands. I saw myself as that servant of the cause, the idealistic crusader who came out of the Soviet Union in spite of the prejudice and mistrust; I would change their minds and be the best agent in the Command.
I was second best, according to some. Second to my friend and partner Napoleon Solo.
But, where is he now?
Gone. He got out before the madness overtook him completely, and he left me here to fend for myself among the caretakers who are as mad as we who do their bidding.
I should have left when Napoleon did. I could have avoided Yugoslavia and … Things might have been different.
Now it is I who must depart. The warning was given, and Napoleon was wiser than I and braver as well. He took the abuse and the challenging rebuke from the old man, and never looked back as those grey doors closed behind him.
I won't endure the lecture. The letter is on Uncle Alex's desk, along with my sincerest apologies for not leaving sooner. It won't do any good to apologize to the parents of the girl who died in Yugoslavia, or her young fiancé. It will simply be, for me, the last regret that remains of the organization to which I pledged my youth.
That is gone now, as is the idealism that empowered me for so many years. I don't regret doing the good that was accomplished, or my friendship with Napoleon.
Perhaps someday, under better circumstances, we will meet again. I fear he was greatly disappointed in me, and would have welcomed me along on his escape from world order. But, he lacked vision. He did not have any idea of where he wished to wander, only that he must leave.
I, on the other hand, had no stomach for the chaos that his style of abandonment might create; I lived through my own version of it too many years ago and had no desire to be, once again, lost and without guidance.
A grown man, and I feared independence.
Now I do have a plan. It will surprise and, possibly, astound people. But the story started so many years ago and among such talented individuals that I am confident of my choice. I have a tidy sum of money set aside and the sorts of people backing me that turn heads with their prestige.
It's funny to think how many times I had to play the part of what I now choose to be. No one attributed the ease of my impersonation to an actual knowledge of the subject, only to my usual élan regarding disguises and deceit. What an unholy alliance we all have become; our best impressions of those we hold closest to us is based on our ability to deceive and mislead both the guilty and the innocent.
I am well rid of it. I am quite prepared to surround myself with beauty and elegance, things that will no doubt create disbelief and, from some, scorn. Even Napoleon would not suspect that within his little buddy, a term I never liked in spite of his good intentions, there dwelt a man of artistic dreams that contrasted with the image behind which I lived.
My life was never an open book, and the few chapters that emerged were interspersed with the demands of the job, so never fully understood by anyone; not even Napoleon. He was too preoccupied, in spite of a genuine affection and friendship, with his own pursuits. Napoleon is a man of deep and abiding faith in the Final Outcome. By that I mean he believes that in the end everything will turn out for the best; he is a genuine optimist and whatever success we ever had as partners was due in part to that spirit of overcoming all odds.
I, on the other hand, am a pragmatist of monumental proportions. It is within my being to count the cost and tally it up before taking that step into whatever circumstance is at hand. I lacked faith in the outcome of Napoleon's departure and, to my regret now and, perhaps always, could not join him as he walked out one last time from the chrome and gunmetal walls.
That description, so aptly given many years ago, describes the eventual state of my own soul. Were it not for some glimmer of hope in my distant past and the continuing friendships from my years in Paris, the unyielding chrome and stark glumness of gunmetal would have consumed me.
Finally, tragically, there was the incident in Yugoslavia. The loss of an innocent life within my care, the betrayal of an agent who bore the title of UNCLE but whose evil intentions had aligned him with Thrush, these things finally tore at my soul until the last shred of allegiance fell. No longer could I serve among those who had knowingly let me lead that girl into a trap in order to expose the traitor. The cost was too high, the final result the loss of ideals and hope.
And so here I am, on the threshold of something so completely new to me that my hand trembles slightly when the time comes to sign my name to this new enterprise. I will no doubt hear from some of my comrades in the USSR, as well as those from the agencies who run intelligence games in America. I am a free man, although my past is never far from me and the immunity I gained working for UNCLE is on paper only. My expectations are to remain as one who is constantly under watch and scrutiny by both sides.
As for me, I no longer have a side, only a vocation.
I am Vanya.