The view from the secretarial pool was generally one of suit-clad agents with proper barber haircuts and a generous helping of testosterone laden, if not polite, demeanors. Most of the men at the U.N.C.L.E. of New York were textbook in their appearance, and even when they showed up in their undercover garb, they were somehow so very UNCLE-ish, at least to the ladies who typed up their reports, booked their airline flights and delivered the occasional cup of coffee.
But then the Russian showed up. Small of stature, blond and blue eyed in a way that had caused more than one of the support staff to sigh involuntarily. He was polite yet distant, with a quiet disinterest in the affairs of others that tended to make a woman want to pique his interest.
He was eventually partnered with the agency's resident Mr. Wonderful, Napoleon Solo. To say that the secretarial staff of UNCLE went out of their way to assist the handsome agent would be an understatement. Most of the women literally fell over themselves trying to gain his attention, unnecessary acrobatics considering the man was always aware of what they were doing, and amused endlessly at his effect on them.
Napoleon was less amused at the effect his new partner had on the women of UNCLE. Somehow, without even trying and seemingly with little or no awareness of it, the slightly built young man had captured the imagination, if not the affections, of a large number of the female staff. Napoleon wondered if it was the allure of mystery, perhaps, coming from the Soviet Union and having lived and studied in England and France. He seemed to represent that Continental aura that Americans lacked. Somehow hot dogs and apple pie couldn't measure up to the images of champagne and fois gras.
The fact that Illya Kuryakin maintained such a cool façade only added to the impression that he was, somehow, more elegant and more refined than his American counterparts. He only hinted at a smile when greeted, and his icy blue stare could be fixed on one of the girls, or on a love affair from his past. No one knew for certain, and that made him all the more desirable.
On a particular day in April, when most employers found it in their hearts to honor their secretaries for the jobs performed, the ladies of UNCLE were treated to something beyond the normal flowers and candy often offered. Mr. Waverly had graciously sent each woman in the secretarial pool a gift certificate to one of the better department stores with his thanks for jobs well done, something the women had of course appreciated.
That, however, was not the treat over which the ladies would gather to reminisce in days to come. No, although it was something they would be able to take home with him, it would still remain intangible, except perhaps in their dreams.
Illya and Napoleon had been working for several weeks on a farm in upstate New York. It was an undercover assignment, and the task had been to gain proof of a THRUSH plot to infect the crops of select farmers who had land adjacent to a lake that the devious organization wished to commandeer for one of their demented plans.
The two UNCLE agents had been thrown into hard manual labor on this assignment, and in keeping with the habits of the other workers, both Illya and Napoleon had shed their shirts during the daylight hours in the field and had developed reasonable tans for their efforts. As is expected with such physical work, their physiques had also been affected. Repeated use of muscles had resulted in some hard earned definition for both, enhanced further by the new tans they each sported.
You might ask what this has to do with Secretaries and special days. Well, this is how it went…
"Illya, I told you to watch out for that fire hydrant. You ran right into it."
The blond just glowered at his partner. Were they even in the same car when it happened?
"Napoleon, we were chasing that THRUSH car, if you recall, and were sideswiped by his underling in the Volkswagen. I did not run over the fire hydrant on purpose, you blockhead!"
"Well, that may be true but I got soaked, and now…"
The unexpected downpour had equally drenched Illya, as the hydrant gave way and spouted water thirty feet into the air, and back down again. Children had appeared out of nowhere, it seemed, and a block party ensued in the heat of an abnormally warm April day.
A slight scuffle had ensued between the men from UNCLE and the THRUSH in the Volkswagen. The lead car had gotten away, but not without another UNCLE tail that Napoleon called in. Illya's shirt was literally ripped off by the aggressive driver of the THRUSH car as they scuffled and rolled on the sidewalk. A few children laughed and applauded at the show before Illya knocked the other man out and left him to drown in the downpour. The police could have him.
Napoleon and Illya walked the ten blocks back to headquarters, drying off in the heat of the day. Blue jeans that had fit before the waterworks were now hanging off of the slim hips of both agents; Napoleon's shirt was open to the waist, while Illya was without one. They were both tired, hot and ready to be done with their tenure as farm hands.
When they walked into reception, Illya and Napoleon looked nothing like UNCLE agents should look. Illya was shirtless; his toned and tan torso fairly glistened, and the blue eyes now stood out more than usual beneath a mop of whitish blond hair, something that was noted by Wanda as she wondered where he would put the badge she handed him.
Napoleon was equally disheveled, his hair no longer neatly combed but hanging down over his forehead, accentuating a rakish quality not often seen in the suave American. His shirt was gaping open to reveal his own tanned muscular chest, so that the pair of them looked more like a poster for an adventure movie than the top two agents in New York.
It was a picture that Wanda wisely photographed on her console screen, and sent to the girls in communications. Those images were then printed, delivered and subsequently opened by every secretary in the New York office of the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.
There are many ways to say "Thank you" to the girls who make things go round. This one would become the standard by which all other efforts were measured.