Napoleon Solo was a generous man in most areas that counted. He was generous as a friend, although not many warranted the title. He was generous in his devotion to work, so much so that his future seemed secure.
He was reputed by many to be a very generous lover, and the trail of women left starry eyed, even wistful, had lent a certain level of fantasy to the prospects of finding out if it could all possibly be true.
What Napoleon was not, according to some, was generous in the area of forgiveness. Once burned by foe or friend, the handsome Solo found it entirely too easy to withdraw his favor and simply move on. The only exception to this had been in his affections for Clara; even after she abandoned their love affair he had been only too willing to go to her aid when she begged him to travel to Turbuf. Illya had wisely accompanied him there, his instincts proving correct when Napoleon had become nearly mired once again in what seemed to be a continuing affection for the woman.
All of that was behind him now, and Napoleon was facing a dilemma of similar proportions, if not exactly identical in its details. The romance between Illya and Amy, Napoleon's young aunt (albeit by marriage), was a concern that had unsettled a seemingly smooth relationship. Two, actually, because Napoleon was unsure how to approach Amy about the situation, and a little fearful of the outcome should Illya know of it.
It was with this sense of trepidation that Napoleon approached his vivacious young aunt Amy.
A dinner date with Napoleon had sounded delightful to Amy when he called to make a date. She adored Napoleon, and they had forged a strong bond during the years of her marriage to his uncle, Aubrey Trudeau. The two were just a few years apart, and so their friendship had grown as might be expected between cousins or even siblings. Napoleon felt protective of the beautiful blonde, and now the need to shield her from harm was emerging like a chivalrous mission. He knew she was a capable woman, but somehow a lingering vulnerability made Solo imagine that she would welcome his attention to the affair between her and Illya.
They chose to meet at a new conceptual eatery called Benihana that had garnered some attention from the New York Times recently. A few celebrities had been spotted dining there, and it featured Japanese chefs wielding knives and precision skills who prepared meals right in front of the diners. Amy thought it sounded fabulous and exciting. Napoleon had his doubts.
It was an atmosphere that did not lend itself to a truly private conversation; four couples could be seated at the various stations in order to promote something social … conversation perhaps. Napoleon was disappointed and unsure now of how to proceed with his little lesson on the reasons why nice women shouldn't date UNCLE agents.
Perhaps that was unkind. Napoleon dated very nice women on a regular basis. No, the lesson he intended was why his aunt Amy should never date an UNCLE agent. Amy should not date Illya Kuryakin. He hoped it wasn't too late.
Amy and Napoleon were escorted to their table, or station or cooking corner … What the hell? Napoleon had been in so many foreign countries he'd lost count, and the charm of eating with your fingers while seated next to a tribal chief had long since worn thin. This wasn't dining, it was communal meals prepared by a knife wielding Samurai. This idea would never take off.
Amy was dressed in her usual immaculate style. A black sheath dress was tastefully accented by turquoise beads and silver earrings; red peek-a-boo pumps and a belt of matching color were the stunning contrast. The total effect was a beautifully unexpected nod to Amy's good taste and equally non-conformist way of doing things. Heads were turning as the couple passed through the restaurant, something not lost on either of them.
As they were being seated, the conversation began.
"So Napoleon, tell me why you've squeezed me in to your busy schedule this weekend. Surely you could have been out with any number of other eligible women."
There was a twinkle in Amy's eye and a musical quality to her voice as she teased her favorite relative. She thought she knew why they were dining together, but decided to make Napoleon go through the motions of explaining it to her.
"My dear Amy…'
He meant it. Napoleon felt for Amy as a brother might a beautiful sister who attracted too much male attention. He was her guardian.
"… We needed to connect, I thought. I … we haven't seen much of each other since your party. Before Christmas, the party…"
There was a pause to place the dinner order. Lobster for Amy, steak and shrimp for Napoleon.
"Oh, the party was fun wasn't it. I thought you looked wonderful with Nancy, she was quite taken with you, you know."
Napoleon had to smile at the memory; Nancy had been taken with him and by him, quite literally.
"Yes, well … ahem… Amy, what I wanted to talk to you about is … '
Attention was demanded by the chef. Food was flying across the grill and Napoleon suddenly feared for his silk tie, not to mention the suit he was wearing. Amy squealed with delight at the show, a childlike reaction to the amazing skills being demonstrated.
Why am I trying to derail her relationship with Illya? The thought abruptly interfered with Napoleon's original mission for the night. Amy deserved to be happy, and so did Illya. What if they really were meant to be together?
She turned to him, still smiling, ready to listen.
"Are you and Illya…?"
To her credit, Amy Trudeau did not take offense at her nephew's unspoken question. It was enough for her to know that he cared enough to worry for her well-being.
"Illya and I are … hmmm… simpatico. It isn't serious, Napoleon, I don't have dreams of marrying your partner. It's serendipity, that's all, something for each of us at a time when we both desperately need to feel something. And we have you to thank for that."
That last was said with a brilliant smile, leaving Napoleon completely defenseless for anything else, he had to accept that his gloriously vibrant aunt would probably have carnal knowledge of his stoic and, up to now, predictably monk-like friend and partner. The Russian had managed to charm the most charming woman Napoleon knew.
It was almost unbelievable.
It was also, incredibly, too late to stop.