What's in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.

~William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

.

The din of the city that usually never slept seemed distant and muffled.

The only sound distinct heard on the darkened side street was the soft footsteps of Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin as they walked along at a steady clip. They moved in unison, with Solo carrying a small bundle in his arms, while his partner had a diaper bag slung over his shoulder.

"We are being followed," the Russian whispered quietly.

"I didn't hear anything." Napoleon resisted turning around.

"Trust me, there is someone lurking behind us." Kuryakin could somehow sense it in the air. It was as if there was an electric current, dancing along his skin...just on the edge of his senses. The hair on the back of his neck rose and the telltale goosebumps appeared.

"I do trust you tovarisch, just let me know when."

"On the count of three, get out of the way," Illya responded.

"Odin, dva , tri..."

Illya whirled around in one fluid motion, drawing his Special from it's shoulder holster and aiming into the darkness. Napoleon ducked into a doorway, pressing himself against a brick wall, and holding the infant close to his chest with one arm, leaving his other hand free to draw his own gun.

He looked down at the sleeping child's face, praying they could keep him safe until they reached headquarters. The 'pffft' of Illya's silenced weapon went off a split second before the sharp repeat of a pistol rang out.

The baby woke, letting out a frightened wail.

Illya fired when he saw the figure step from the shadows as it aimed a gun at him. The assailant went down, falling to the sidewalk hard as Kuryakin's dart hit it's mark.

"Quickly Napoleon," the Russian called out, " before any more of them show up."

Solo cuddled the baby, trying to rock it, patting the child's back to calm it.

"Shush, munchkin, it's okay. You're oooookay." The crying lessened until it became a whimper, then silence as Napoleon put a pacifier in the baby's mouth.

The agents hurried around the corner, running now for the silver convertible they'd parked there earlier.

Illya opened the driver's side door, sliding behind the wheel and quickly starting the car. As soon as Napoleon climbed in beside him, he hit the gas pedal; the car screeching away from the curb and into the night.

They drove for a while, saying nothing as Napoleon continued to rock the tiny bundle in his arms. When they reached the front of Del Floria's, Illya pulled up the car to the curb, shutting off the engine.

He turned towards the American, looking tired and pale.

"You okay?"

"No," he said, reaching down to his side, his hand coming away with blood on it. "It seems I was hit." Those were the last words he spoke before passing out against the steering wheel.

.

Illya awoke in medical, having had surgery to remove the bullet lodged just below his ribs, luckily nothing vital had been damaged. Napoleon was standing beside the bed, as usual, waiting for his partner to come to.

The blonc turned his head slowly, still resting it on the pillow as he took a deep breath, but wincing a little as he shifted his body position.

"I wish you'd told me you'd been hit."

"What good would it have done?" He spoke with a hoarse voice.. "There was nothing you could have done. It was more important to get the child to safety. Is he all right?"

"Yes, our little charge went unscathed and has been reunited with his father the Ambassador. I've been told his mother's begun to respond well after hearing her son had been rescued and she's expected to survive.'

"Will THRUSH never cease committing such despicable deeds...kidnapping a helpless newborn infant for ransom and nearly killing the mother in the process," Illya grumbled.

"Nothing they do ever surprises me. Oh by the way,"Napoleon grinned," the Ambassador, now that he has his son back, has finally been able to name him. Napoleon Illya Kadidou. Has a nice ring to it if I do say so myself, Napoleon Kadidou... that little Algerian is going to get a lot of respect with a strong name like that."

"Napoleon Illya Kadidou? Hmm, given Bonaparte's history of invasion and the French occupation of Algeria, I think that first name may cause the poor boy some problems in life. Illya Napoleon Kadidou would have been much nicer and a safer choice, do you not think?"

"Not really," the American snickered. "You must be feeling better tovarisch, sounds like your sense of humor's back up to speed."

"I was not attempting to be funny. I was being serious. Confucius said 'If names are not correct, language will not be in accordance with the truth of things."

Napoleon's puckered frown was priceless. "Leave it to you to uin a perfectly good moment."

"i was merely stating the obvious..."

"Thanks a bunch."

"You are welcome."