Illya stood very still as he stared into the barrel of what must have been Neally's own pistol. Betty's hand was shaking as she stepped towards the wary blond in the doorway.
"Here, take the blasted thing. I picked it up and … O my gawd, this is just awful."
Instead of finishing the hand off of the gun into Illya's hand, the quivering woman dropped it, which caused it to fire yet again. Illya grabbed Betty and thrust her out into the hallway and out of harm's way. As it happened, the gun had landed facing the open window; Illya chose to not pursue where the bullet might have landed.
Instead of that course of action and thought, the Russian was intent on retrieving the bug in Betty's feathered mask. To that end, Illya decided he might as well just take the mask. With that and Betty in tow, agent and innocent (a slightly dubious designation) proceeded back downstairs into the swarm of official and unofficial bystanders.
Napoleon was waiting for his partner when he saw Illya and Betty walking through the door to the Green Cat Club and out onto the sidewalk.
"Illya! Over here, and don't forget to bring the lady."
The two blondes (that is, the blond and the blonde), made their way to where the senior UNCLE agent had been conversing with a New York homicide detective named Gilley Hyde. Periodically it did become necessary to join forces with the police, and when events were as public as this had been it was inevitable.
Napoleon introduced Detective Hyde to his partner, eliciting from the policeman slightly more than a nod of acknowledgement.
"Pleased to make your acquaintance, I'm sure. That's an unusual name you got there Mr. Kuryakin. Where're you from?"
Illya was accustomed to the question.
"UNCLE Headquarters. Now, if you don't mind, it is probably best if we leave this investigation in your capable hands and return to file our reports on this incident."
Detective Hyde smiled, turning his attention to Betty who was still trembling slightly in the aftermath of the events in the penthouse.
"Miss … ?"
Napoleon was quick to intervene, smiling as he rolled out what he thought was an acceptable version of the story.
"This is Miss … er… Betty. Betty …"
"Nivens. Betty Nivens and I'm pleased to meet you officer. You know…"
Illya hoped Napoleon had a plan.
"Yes, Betty Nivens. Betty, this is Detective Hyde. Um… Detective, Betty was in the room when Mr. Neally took that horrible leap from his penthouse window. As you can see she is still upset by this…'
Napoleon took off his jacket and wrapped it around the scantily dressed woman.
"We really do need to get her back to …"
Hyde shook his head.
"Sorry Mr. Solo. Miss Nivens is an eye-witness to this, uh… well, we haven't ruled on what it is, exactly. Miss Nivens…'
This was going to take some diplomacy on his part. It wasn't every day that a guy had to tangle with the U.N.C.L.E.
"… you'll need to come with me back to the station. I have a few questions that need answering. You understand."
Betty didn't understand, and she was a little bit scared after what she had been through. Mr. Kuryakin hadn't said anything about people dying when he asked her to wear that mask.
"What about the ma…"
"Betty, why don't you just let Detective Hyde guide you with his questions. Please don't worry about anything, you've done nothing wrong."
Napoleon hoped the woman wouldn't say anything more about the mask, or what she was doing up in Mac Neally's penthouse apartment. The police didn't need to know everything about this case, only that Betty had been with Neally and that the man had somehow left his apartment via the window. Simple. And true.
Betty nodded her head; a modicum of understanding was mixed in with a general lack of comprehension as to what Napoleon wanted from her. It did seem as though he was hinting at keeping the mask a secret. That was fine. It was just a silly mask.
"You know, I knew a family back home named Hyde. I wonder if you're related to them…"
Detective Gilley Hyde doubted it, but years on the force had taught him that one method of gaining the confidence of suspects and even innocent people was to feign some type of interest in whatever it was they wanted to say.
"Ya don't say. Well, I suppose there's Hydes all over the world."
Betty thought that was funny. She thought the detective was sort of cute, actually.
"Yeah, they were nice, especially Harry."
Napoleon didn't crack a smile, just looked at Illya and then the detective.
Finally it hit Illya.
"Harry Hyde? That's a bit cruel, to subject a child to a name like that."
Gilley finally laughed out loud, his own recollection of a family member with the same name was of a chubby, redheaded boy who had endured years of tormenting comments.
"Ah Betty, er… Miss Nivens, I needed a good laugh. Gentlemen, I think I have it under control for now. I'll call you if anything of interest comes along. Miss Nivens can accompany me to the station and then …'
Betty flashed a smile that could have warmed up a very cold night.
"… Well, we can talk about that later."
Napoleon nudged Illya, indicating it was time to take their leave of the scene. Betty waved a pert farewell, her traumatic encounter already filed behind the potential she saw in Detective Hyde.
As the two agents approached their car, Napoleon looked across the street at an aging hotel, a remnant of what remained of the un-renovated buildings in this emerging district. Clearly there was no one tending to this abandoned business in spite of the tired old sign that boasted an invitation with its worn out neon VACANCY.
"You know Illya, I think that just about sizes up this affair. I believe we're all done with Henry Jones. What do you say we grab something to eat and then head back to write this one up… and off."
Illya looked up at the sign and sighed. He had invested too much energy into Henry Jones' wild scheme, and in the end the only thing to come of it would appear to be a burgeoning romance between Betty and Detective Hyde.
"Do you think someone actually named their son Harry Hyde?"
Napoleon chuckled. He could imagine how bizarre things sometimes appeared to his Russian partner. Even if one could understand, or master a language, it didn't mean he always properly interpreted the people speaking it.
"I once knew a man named…'
Napoleon laughed out loud at his recollection of the man he came to know and admire during his early years in UNCLE.
"…ahh… he was a great guy, though."
"I don't read minds, you know."
"Oh, sorry. Seymour. His name was Seymour Butts."
Illya's eyes widened and then, finally, he laughed out loud in a guffaw that surprised his amused partner. The two of them then let the release of tension escalate as they laughed until tears were running from their eyes.
"Really? Seymour Butts? Harry Hyde and Seymour Butts… you Americans are a bizarre lot, you know that…'
Illya removed his handkerchief to wipe the moisture from his face. He hadn't laughed that hard in…
"Thank you, Napoleon. That is the funniest thing I've heard in a long time. I suppose we both needed to laugh at something."
Each man considered the seriousness of what they encountered on a daily basis, and how infrequent it was that they had occasion to simply enjoy a good laugh.
"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine."
"Ah, you are familiar with King James, I take it. That is unexpected, coming from a Soviet Citizen."
Napoleon was always amazed at Illya's knowledge of literature and, in many instances, the bible. He was an interesting guy.
"Not everyone in Russia is a godless communist, my friend. Besides, I took a literature course at Cambridge that included the poetry and prose of the Old Testament. They're rather proud of King James, it seems."
Napoleon was behind the wheel as the agents slipped into the leather seats of their sedan. The evening would be punctuated with chuckles as Solo and Kuryakin drove to one of their favorite restaurants. Both men were smiling now, the prospect of a good meal and another day all that was really important.
Oh, and a good laugh once in a while.