April Dancer was nothing if not bold. Not just any fashion conscious woman could step into the shoes that the U.N.C.L.E. had made for her. Without waiting for permission or instructions, April made her way towards the recovery room where she now knew Illya would be.
It was only to make certain that the Russian was going to be all right; something about this evening's events had left April with the feeling she was responsible for way too much of what had gone wrong. It wasn't just Illya's remarks, either.
April did recognize Lucas Weir, and she knew where he had seen her previous to tonight's debacle.
Before coming to New York from Survival School, April had been assigned a brief courier run in Paris. It was a strange segue for the new graduate, and at the time she had wondered about the request. The UNCLE Chief who had requested it was the eccentric Harry Beldon, from Berlin. A simple drop outside of a couturier's shop had brought her squarely in front of the plate glass window that showcased the designer's creations. When April had turned to look at the assembly of gowns she had seen Lucas Weir. She hadn't known his name then, but when she saw him this evening there was not any doubt. Obviously he had remembered her as well, although perhaps not clearly enough to identify her as the girl in that scene.
April was thinking of this when she entered Illya's room. It was darkened and full of the noises one hears in the hospital. A glimmer of light landed on the Russian's pale face and illuminated blue eyes watching her as she entered.
"April … help me get up…'
Illya grunted out his complaints regarding the pain without stopping to give them any heed.
"We need to go back to that apartment. April!"
The girl jumped at that last bark from the wounded agent. Apparently the bullet wound was not so bad as she had thought; or at least Illya didn't think it was bad. He was making his way from beneath a thin sheet and April realized, just before Illya did, that he was naked. In the rush to get him into surgery and then recovery, the staff had removed his clothing but left him … undressed she supposed, in order to have access to the wound.
"Uh… Illya darling …"
The Russian stood and then swayed slightly, prompting April to go to his side and hold him until the dizziness passed. It was then that Illya recognized his state of undress.
"Oh. Just … oh, never mind. I'm not shy if you're not…"
She had to laugh. She would be the envy of so many women if ever word got out. She silently vowed that it would not.
"No, I'm fine. Let's just get you dressed. I don't suppose there's any chance that you won't insist on going back there with me?'
The icy glare said it all.
"No. I didn't think so. All right, here's your pants…"
The shirt was gone. Just as well, since it was soaked through with blood. The jacket was likewise missing, which meant the slender agent remained only half dressed.
"I'll go and see what I can find. Sit down, will you. I'm afraid you're going to faint on me as it is."
Illya rolled his eyes and regretted it immediately. The drugs were more of a hindrance than the damn hole in his chest. Almost to his shoulder actually, something he realized as he was trying to see in the mirror above the small sink.
It didn't take April very long to locate a polo shirt, something that the fellow in the next room wouldn't be needing for a day or two. It was large on Kuryakin, but it did the job. Satisfied and now with his boots zipped, he was ready to walk out of here.
"Lean on me, just a little. You still look as though you're going to drop any second."
"I won't. But … thank you. I'm sorry I messed this one up; not much of a senior agent I'm afraid."
April smiled, the very idea of Illya Kuryakin apologizing to her was something she'd never forget. But then she remembered…
"Illya, about Lucas Weir…"
They had made it past the reception desk and were on their way to the car April had driven to work in earlier that day. Hours ago, she thought… eons.
Illya gave her one of the sidelong looks for which he had become well known. Women caught them like bouquets and hoped they had the same sweet fragrance of affection; normally there was disappointment.
"What about him?"
April took a deep breath.
"He did recognize me.'
The sideways glance lengthened.
"Paris. He saw me in Paris, just after I left Survival School. Harry Beldon snagged me for a courier run, and while on it I saw, and he saw me and… Do you think it made a difference?"
The blue eyes went back to the staring straight ahead. Illya looked so tired, and April really did think he might pass out again.
"No. I do not believe it made a difference.'
He sighed, flinched slightly at the pain in his shoulder. The medication was wearing off.
"Harry Beldon, you say? He is a strange one. I used to work for Beldon… years ago…"
His head lolled to one side, just for a second.
"Illya? Hey, are you…?"
The blond straightened up. Don't do that, he chastised himself.
"No, I'm … I'm fine. Just drive. Just… go, April."
Lucas Weir was growing impatient with this discussion. He didn't owe UNCLE agents anything, no explanations or justifications. He would regret just a little having to send Solo back to THRUSH Central, but it was all in a day's work, was it not.
If they expected their missing partners to show up and rescue them, Mark and Napoleon weren't exhibiting any kind of anxiousness or anticipation. Weir couldn't know about the homing device and therefore, he wouldn't expect to be interrupted.
It wasn't in their natures to just wait, however. Without any indication of their intentions, Napoleon suddenly bolted for Weir, tackling the taller man as his stunned associates looked on. Mark dropped down into a one-legged squat while turning his body and taking out the two guards with his other extended leg. It was a smooth and impressive move. Weir was still struggling to remain upright when the door burst open to reveal another guard waving a gun and shouting at Napoleon to stop.
Weir freed himself from Solo's grip as the gun came to rest against the agent's temple. Mark's victims were still out, but the gun more than evened the odds in Weir's favor.
"You are very foolish, but I suppose there is no blame in trying to obtain one's freedom. Perhaps even one's life."
Weir looked at Mark when he said that, and would have acted on the threat if not for the next surprise that came through the door.
April pulled up to the curb in front of Weir's apartment building. The streets were still populated with late night crowds, and no one paid attention to the couple that emerged from the blue convertible. Illya was still groggy with pain, but he was determined to stay alert and finish this affair. April was staying the course like a real professional, something that Illya reminded himself she truly was.
"I think we ought to just take the elevator up to the penthouse and make an entrance…'
The pretty face showed concern now for her ailing superior. There was no way Illya could take the stairs, which meant they had no choice but to utilize a frontal attack.
"Let's go get our partners. Illya, please don't take any unnecessary chances."
The blond smiled, she was entirely too comfortable with him.
"I was going to tell you the same thing, April. I'll be fine."
When the two arrived at Weir's front door they found no guards in the hall, and when April turned the handle to open it, she found no resistance.
"It's unlocked. Is that something we should be concerned about?"
Illya shook his head, flattening himself again the opposite side of the door as April slowly opened it.
No one greeted them, although voices could be heard farther down the hall. Illya motioned for them to continue as he drew his Special and readied himself for a fight. April led the way, her gun arm extended as she carefully made a way towards the voices.
"…Perhaps even one's life."
It was Weir's voice, and April didn't intend to let him finish that thought. She kicked the door backwards with one smooth motion and took aim at the handsome THRUSH operative. The hot pink mini dress atop thigh high black boots was not the usual rescue image that Napoleon Solo envisioned, but he liked it.
Weir didn't put up a fight, his bullies likewise were easily herded into the living room to wait for pick up by Section III agents who were now alerted and heading this way.
In the bustle of activity involved among the four UNCLE agents and the now vanquished foe, Napoleon didn't immediately notice that his own partner was wounded. Illya had retreated to a wall and was leaning against it, his strength sapped. The borrowed shirt was now saturated with blood as the wound sprung a leak amidst the action, modest though it had been.
April saw Napoleon's attention shift to the pale man she had rescued only an hour or so earlier. What a night!
"Illya? What happened to you, tovarisch? Can't you stay out of trouble for just a few minutes without me?"
The gentle ribbing was colored with real concern. Had this happened just as they entered the apartment, or…? His mental guessing game was interrupted as the Russian, now pale as a sheet, began to slide down the wall, failing every attempt to keep himself aloft. He was going down and nothing was going to stop it…
"Hey, easy going there, Illya. I've got you."
The next day found four agents assembled in front of Mr. Waverly. Illya had been treated – again, and released to the care of his partner. No gunfights, no carousing and definitely no more active duty for at least twenty-four hours. Illya had reluctantly agreed on all three points.
Mark and April were poised for a terse review of their activities; nothing like getting captured and allowing your senior agent who is acting as partner, to get himself shot. Both of the young agents were bravely anticipating the worst.
Illya and Napoleon weren't nearly so devoid of optimism. After all, they had gotten their man, and in spite of the wily intentions of the SOB (Mark's term, strictly on his head), UNCLE would indeed find the information he possessed useful in the pursuit of yet more THRUSH operations.
Alexander Waverly huffed into his pipe, the ever-present aroma somehow comforting to the young people assembled in front of him.
"I see that we have successfully acquired Lucas Weir. Well done. Mr. Kuryakin, you are to take the next two days off from active duty…'
Illya started to object, but the wiry eyebrows shot up in a manner that stayed any comment from the blond.
'… active duty, which does not preclude the reports that I expect on this affair no later than tomorrow morning. That is all. Good day."
April and Mark sat still for just a fraction longer than necessary, but soon rose from their chairs to follow their two superiors out through the hissing doors.
"That's a bloody miracle. April luv, we made it past the lion's den and live to tell the tale."
He winked at his auburn haired partner, glad to be heading back to their normal partnership in spite of all the fun he'd had with Napoleon.
"April, Mark… well done. I hope we'll get to do this again soon. Illya?"
The Russian nodded his adieu and followed his own partner down the corridor. Agents Dancer and Slate watched the retreat, mindful of the responsibilities born by the two men.
"Mark darling, do you think we'll be as well regarded as those two some day? Illya was awfully brave, the way he left Medical and went right back to rescue Napoleon and …"
Mark was staring at her, slightly concerned that she seemed to be so smitten with Kuryakin.
"… Oh, Mark. Please don't look at me like that. I'll never love anyone like I love my little Marky-poo."
"I have asked you repeatedly to not call me that. Now, as I was saying…"
And the two headed off for their own future glory, arm in arm and knitted together like proper soul mates.