Napoleon Solo didn't have a clue where he was. He was lying down in something soft and … He sniffed, letting his nose help him out with the details.
"Hmmm… it smells green. Mossy."
A groan from somewhere to his left caused the groggy Solo to turn his head, something he immediately regretted.
"What was your first clue?"
Solo smirked. Waking up was less than agreeable this time around.
"Are you hurt? I don't think I am. Well, my head hurts a little, but that's to be expected I suppose."
A rustling sound meant that the Russian half of this team was moving around. That was a good sign, at least he could move.
"Do you know where we are? It is very dark, Napoleon, and I …'
As he was speaking, Illya Kuryakin looked up, trying to see past the trees on this dark night. In an instant the sky that had been covered in clouds suddenly lit up with a full moon.
"That is peculiar. A full moon overhead and here we are stumbling around in the dark."
Both men were looking up now, mesmerized by the appearance of a moon that transformed their gloomy surroundings into a well-lit enclosure that boasted a mossy green carpet, bordered by a hedge of boxwood. The trees beyond seemed to be part of a larger garden, the overhanging limbs not nearly as forbidding as the agents' initial impression.
Both men were gaining a little more clarity, and in the process they observed in each other a distinct lack of clothing. They were, in fact, both of them totally naked. A chill went through them as a soft breeze rustled the leaves overhead, and a memory stirred of a woman with black hair and violet eyes, and wearing a beautiful blue evening gown. It seemed like a dream.
"She has the microdot, Napoleon. And our clothes, apparently."
To their credit, neither man was particularly non-plussed about his missing clothing. They were UNCLE agents, after all, and used to a variety of oddities in their lives and missions. Most of the time they were grateful if clothing or guns were the only things missing when dealing with THRUSH.
Napoleon's expression said it all, and his dislike of the woman, in spite of her obvious attributes, elicited a sour recollection of being kissed and drugged, all in one smooth moment. The smirk soon morphed into a wry smile as the agent reflected on how truly pleasant the kiss had been.
Illya had no such memory, only the distinctly unpleasant sensation that he had been outmaneuvered by a woman with no compunction about kissing and telling. He had no doubts that she would indeed tell all, and that Solo and Kuryakin would been seen as a little less threatening in the wake of this rather blatant failure.
"I don't suppose you have any suggestions about how we are to get back to headquarters without our clothing."
The blond was not particularly modest, however the prospect of traveling by foot in this state of undress seemed something best avoided, if at all possible. From the look on Napoleon's face, the feeling was mutual.
"I need a minute to think. I suppose we could blame it on the full moon if we get stopped."
Illya snorted, the understatement was glaring.
"If we get stopped? Do you have any doubt that it will happen? Really, Napoleon, sometimes your ability to bypass the obvious…"
The look on his partner's face told the Russian that the chastisement was unnecessary.
"I don't have a solution for this, tovarisch. I do see some lights over there…'
Napoleon pointed towards a large house, the one they had been in earlier, most likely. It was about half a mile from where they were now, and by the looks of it the party was still going.
"I say we head back to where this all started and see if we can't break up the party."
The smile was wicked, and the two of them had just enough moxie between them to make an unabashed entrance. Or perhaps they would simply sneak in and steal some clothes.
The walk back was fraught with pebbles on the road and the occasional thorn on the rambling rose bushes that lined an old path. The men from UNCLE didn't bother to skulk or pretend to hide beneath the full moon overhead, and were cast into the shadows whenever clouds passed by. All things considered the time went quickly, and their impromptu plan was decided upon just as they approached the impressive home of Celeste Basques.
The stone steps leading to the front door were avoided as Illya and Napoleon made their way around the house and through a window on the first floor. So confident was the woman in her sense of victory that she had relaxed security to the point of it being nearly non-existent. It was… handy.
Sliding in, careful to avoid pointy places and obvious dangers, given their present lack of clothing, the men found themselves in the library. Luckily, the room was empty, although sounds of the ongoing soiree could be heard coming from the larger room across the expansive entry.
Napoleon motioned to Illya to stand guard at the door while he searched the room. Why he should have expected to find something suitable for clothing was a curiosity to the Russian, but he did as he was instructed and stood peeking through the crack he made in the double doors.
The only thing that Napoleon was eventually able to decide on was the velvet drapery that hung over the large windows through which they had entered. It was no use looking anywhere else, time wouldn't permit it. They needed to retrieve that microdot and then get out of this place.
With as little noise as possible, Napoleon yanked on the long green panels, ducking out of the way when they cascaded down to the floor. Illya shushed his partner, and then blanched at the prospect of wearing the fabric like a toga.
"Really, Napoleon? Perhaps we should go check the guest rooms upstairs for something… more suitable."
Napoleon shook his head and tossed Illya one of the panels.
"Nope. We don't have time, just put it on… just… somehow."
Amazingly, the Russian was able to fashion himself an impeccable garment by properly tucking and rolling. Napoleon was impressed, and with a withering expression managed to ask for help with his garment.
"There, I think the look rather suits you."
Illya could have broken out in laughter, but he resisted the temptation. He was certain they both looked totally ridiculous, and without the aid of a mirror in the room, he took on instinct that given a chance they could reduce the assembly of THRUSH personnel to a raucous delirium.
"UNCLE strikes terror into the hearts of their opponents, once again."
Illya delivered the line with not the least bit of whimsy.
"All right, let's get on with this."
Illya sighed, Napoleon smiled. THRUSH capitulated.
The next morning, during their briefing with Mr. Waverly, the two agents were less than enthusiastic about the report they had submitted. It was all true, but they secretly hoped that no one else would ever read it.
"Ahemmm… gentlemen, I must say your performance last night was… er… impressive, to say the least."
Alexander Waverly was doing his best to not smile or laugh. These men put their lives on the line for UNCLE, and if sometimes they employed less than predictable tactics, well… so be it.
"Yes sir, well… we were faced with a rather unusual predicament. It is fortunate that the enemy was so easily… disarmed."
Solo couldn't help but smile when he said that. If it hadn't been for Illya's quick thinking, they might both have ended up in a THRUSH cell instead of with the microdot.
"Tell me, gentlemen, and especially you, Mr. Kuryakin… just what inspired you to …'
Waverly searched for a way to phrase this without embarrassing his agent.
"Just how did you arrive at the solution you did?"
Illya frowned, just a little. Why did it always fall to him to launch into these peculiar heroics? He sighed a little, once more, at the memory of it.
"Sir, when we entered the room, it was full of women who were, well they were inebriated. Even Miss Basques was quite out of her mind with it, and she seemed rather pleased to see us. She boasted to Mr. Solo about where she had put the microdot, which was of course what we were there to collect."
Illya paused, looking at his partner and then back to Mr. Waverly. This was all in the report, so why the narration?
"So, with that information so handily provided, I determined that a… well, a diversion, perhaps, was in order."
Napoleon couldn't help it, he was laughing at the image of it all. Illya shot him a look that could have frozen over Lake Erie, but it failed to deter his friend from at least grinning from ear to ear. Even Waverly, in anticipation of the punch line, was amused.
"And what, exactly, was the diversion, Mr. Kuryakin? Just for the record, you understand."
Illya was not exactly embarrassed, because it had worked, after all. Napoleon was able to grab the microdot in the midst of the excitement that had been generated by Illya's impromptu act. Celeste Basques had applied it to her décolleté, a most obvious place for a microdot, and within easy reach for someone as skilled as Napoleon Solo.
"Yes, well… I was suddenly struck by the idea of how easily I could disrobe and…'
Napoleon was choking back laughter by now.
"Go ahead and say it, Illya. What made you do it?"
Illya smiled now, the joke was on him but it was also on THRUSH and Celeste for being so confident that the UNCLE agents wouldn't show up and… show off.
"I was inspired, I suppose, by the evening's attributes, and so I dropped the ersatz toga and mooned them; rather stylishly, I believe. It was, I suppose, a full moon, so to speak."
Napoleon burst out laughing at that, and Mr. Waverly chuckled in a most dignified way. Illya smiled, the torment of telling the story not nearly as mortifying as he might have feared.
"Very good, Mr. Kuryakin. We have you to thank for retrieving the microdot…'
He looked across the table at his CEA.
"And you, of course, Mr. Solo. That's all gentlemen; well done, as usual."
Illya and Napoleon exited the office of their superior, each with a smirk on his face.
"Really Illya… A full moon? That was uncharacteristically uncouth of you, old man."
Illya shrugged his shoulders.
"Not any more than that ridiculous Gone With The Wind toga that you came up with. I think we are both to be commended for thinking outside of the normal parameters of the job, and should be thankful that there are no witnesses to that scene."
Napoleon stopped in mid stride and halted his partner's progress with a hand on the Russian's arm.
"What do you mean, no witnesses? There was a room full of women who are now quite capable of describing that scene to their superiors. Even drunk, they will most probably remember you… and your … and me. We will be the laughing stock of the next THRUSH cocktail party."
The normally cool demeanor faded as Napoleon considered their next session with a THRUSH interrogator. He shivered slightly at the prospect of being reminded of last night's performance.
Illya, on the other hand, was not concerned. What was a little nudity among spies and their secretaries?
"Don't worry, Napoleon. There are probably far worse situations than being seen in a green velvet toga. Oh, Mr. Waverly gave me this file for us to review before we leave on our next assignment."
Napoleon was curious about their destination.
"Africa. Some kind of uprising, I believe. Wild animals, natives… perhaps a lion or a gorilla instead of the usual THRUSH goons."
Napoleon laughed at that. Right, a gorilla…