Word count: 1448
Prompt: Napoleon and Illya are trapped with a THRUSH agent and his family.
Janto, I hope this fits the bill. I wrote it up in the Foothills.
“Completely? I don’t believe it. I’ve got places to go, people to see.” The man pounded on the counter and with his fist and the desk clerk looked more annoyed than frightened.
“Yes, sir, an avalanche has closed the road. It will be at least a day, possibly two before it will be cleared enough for safe travel.” The desk clerk repeated himself yet again.
“What about unsafe? I’d help him travel unsafely.” Napoleon murmured, his eyes never leaving their traveling companions. Illya didn’t bother to hide his smirk.
“I heard dog sleigh is the new trend.” He flipped the page of the book he wasn’t reading. “At least we don’t have to worry about the THRUSH agent skipping town.”
“Unless he favors the freeze dried approach, I fear he is as stuck as we.”
Close to the entry a woman sat, looking small in her sweater. Two children sat nearby, arguing and bickering, pausing in their shouting only long enough to hit one another.
“Knock it off.” The man, their father, yelled. “Gladys, make your children behave.”
“Wouldn’t they also be partially his responsibility?” Illya asked. Illya turned another page of his book.
“Well, if you are being old fashioned about it, that’s a safe assumption.” Napoleon sighed. “Did you ever fight like that with your brothers and sisters?”
“Are you crazy? My grandmother would have had me out to the wood shed before the thought even formed in my head. My father would be waiting his turn. We fought, but never where we could be seen.”
“I remember going through a period like that with my sister.” Napoleon stretched out his feet towards the fire. “I thought my mom was going to disown both of us for a while.”
“And this is another reason why I applaud Mr. Waverly’s stand on field agents not marrying. Imagine a THRUSH agent using his family as a cover.” Illya closed his book and pulled his glasses off.
“Nothing they do surprises me anymore.”
The THRUSH agent had given up and stormed back to where his family sat. The children quieted at his approach. He talked quietly, but angrily with his wife, who shrank back in her seat, looking more exhausted than fearful. He darted a look towards Napoleon and Illya. Napoleon nodded politely to him.
“Do you think Greyston knows who we are?”
“It depends upon how far up the ladder he is and if he’s been able to communicate with them.”
“Imagine running into a THRUSH agent here.” It was supposed to have been a quiet week away from work, just the two of them, acting like regular people for a change. Yet, UNCLE agents rarely got to be regular people. “Remind me to stop vacationing with you.”
“Hey, this was your idea, not mine. I was going to hole up in my apartment for a week.”
“At Christmas time?” Napoleon had to admit that the snow, while lovely at first, now lacked charm. Of course, being trapped in a ski resort with a THRUSH agent wasn’t his idea of a good time.
“Your holiday, not mine. Mine is next month.” Illy did have a trip back to the USSR scheduled. His mother would be delighted to see him. “And you are welcomed to come.”
“And have your mother over-feed me again? It’s tempting.”
They watched as the mother slowly rose and herded the children ahead of her. They started to bicker again, at least until Illya caught their eye. They both quieted down immediately.
“What is that skill you have with children?”
“Five younger brothers and sisters. I honed it early in life.” Illya smiled at Napoleon. “It works well on travel agents, nosy neighbors and some of the accounting department.”
“But not Miss Gladstone.”
“Nothing but forms filled out in triplicate deters her.”
The THRUSH agent came to sit by the fire, his expression sour.
“Can you believe we’re stuck here?” He gestured towards the front desk. “And that idiot does nothing.”
“As much as you want to depart, I imagine there are a host of people wanting to arrive. The lodge is losing money because of this.” Napoleon kept his tone polite and friendly.
“It’s just… the kids are going to kill each other, the wife is worn down to the point of useless--”
Illya interrupted. “Perhaps the children just need a firm hand.”
“Are you offering?” The man seemed overly eager.
“You don’t even know my name,” Illya said, slightly taken aback by the man’s enthusiasm.
At that point, the THRUSH agent sighed. “The gig is up, fellas. I know who you are and you know who I am. However, since we are both trapped at the same place at the same time with the same plans, I’m willing to extend an olive branch. I’m Hank Greyston and I’m here on vacation.” He offered his hand. “In honor of the season?”
“I don’t know that I’ve ever met an honorable THRUSH agent,” Napoleon said, slowly. Yet he took the offered hand. “However, I’m willing to believe they exist. Napoleon Solo, Illya Kuryakin. In the honor of the season, we won’t try to kill you if you don’t try to kill us.”
“So, how about it, Kuryakin? Take those monsters off our hands for a couple of hours.” He looked over at his wife. “If not for me, for the sake of my wife?”
“You’d trust me with your children?”
“You’d trust me with your partner?” The THRUSH agent stood and gestured to his wife. She corralled the children and herded them, still slapping each other, towards Napoleon and Illya. “Dear, these are some business associates of mine.”
“But I thought you said they were lousy UNC—“
“We are,” Napoleon interrupted. “But not as much lousy as agents.”
“This is Gladys and our children, Roger and Annie.” He gave the youngest, the boy, a nudge. “Say hello.”
“Hello.” The boy turned to his father. “Daddy, is this the rotten borscht eater or yes man?” Hank’s face pinked and Napoleon laughed.
“I’m Napoleon, the yes man. This is Illya and he doesn’t eat as much borscht as you would think he does.”
“Or would like to,” Illya added. “Your father thinks you should get out into the fresh and I have ‘volunteered’.”
“In the snow?” The girl sounded dubious. “It’s cold out there.”
”Actually it looks colder than it is. When was the last time you made a snowman?”
“Are you for real? It doesn’t snow in Florida.”
“He doesn’t know we’re from Florida, sweetheart.” Hank’s voice was strained. “Gladys, get them ready to go.”
Gladys looked fearful. “I don’t… I mean…”
“You are welcome to come along as well, Ma’am.” Illya picked up his blue ski jacket from the couch. “What is your room number?”
“Excellent. I will be there in ten minutes.” And with that, Illya was gone.
“Should I worry?” Hank studied Napoleon long and hard.
“Only if you want to. However, if I suddenly found myself free with the woman I love for the next couple of hours, I’d find something better to do with my time.”
Napoleon glanced at his watch and then at the door of the restaurant. Illya had been gone for four hours and he was starting to grow concerned.
Just then Hank entered and walked quickly to Napoleon’s table. “They just arrived back. Gladys is ordering room service for the kids and getting them ready for bed. Your partner looked ready to drop.”
“Give him some food and drink and he’ll be ready to go.” Napoleon’s stomach stopped complaining and a band of tension behind his eyes eased. “Martini?”
“Sure, but my round.” Hank held up a hand at the cocktail waitress, who merely shrugged her shoulder helplessly. “Looks like it’ll be faster if I go. Thanks, Solo. I don’t know what your partner did, but the kids were as meek and mild as kittens.”
At that moment, Illya slipped into his chair and nodded. His face was red from windburn and his eyes were pinched with exhaustion. “Good afternoon?” Napoleon asked as Illya flopped back.
“I’d forgotten what hell children can be. They really should use them for survival training. Cutter has no idea the potential he’s missing.” Illya looked around. “Where’s our THRUSH?”
“Buying us a drink.”
“Do we trust him?”
“Why not?” Napoleon pushed the bowl of peanuts closer to Illya who grabbed a handful and started to munch on them. “He said you were a miracle worker with his kids.”
“Well, all you have to do is terrify them to their wits’ end and then it’s amazing how cooperative they become. Besides, I’ve always had a way with animals.”