Word Count: 1054
Alexander Waverly was not a happy man. Napoleon could tell that the moment he walked into the San Francisco UNCLE office and was told his boss wanted to see him in Conference Room Two.
“Sit down, Mr. Solo.” Napoleon hated it when Waverly started a conversation like that. It always foreshadowed the, I‘m deeply disappointed with you tone of the discussion to come. “Tell me how you came to be in Mr. Vickrey’s company and you again let him slip away.”
He did as he was asked, not leaving out a single detail after they infiltrated the club. Waverly’s shaggy eyebrows did The Dance of a Thousand Veils when Napoleon explained about Illya’s dressed as a woman dressed as a man disguise. He wanted to laugh, but Napoleon knew better. Vickrey was a danger to society and this was strike two.
“And this Grigory Novogrotsky is a turncoat? You are certain of it?” Waverly turned his attention to his pipe, seeming to focus upon the finer details of cleaning it and refilling the bowl. Napoleon knew better.
“More of a plant. After the chief of police spoke with you, he mentioned that they had someone on the inside. We didn’t know who. I did some further investigation and he’s with the FBI and has Scotland Yard ties. We had no idea of knowing who it was inside or even if he or she was still alive.”
“And still you went in, guns blazing, to rescue Mr. Kuryakin, who actually wasn’t even in there to being with.”
“Yes, sir.” Napoleon shut his eyes against the throb in his head. “He was on his way to rescue us, thinking we had been taken.”
“Do you young people not believe in communication any longer?”
“I didn’t have my pen. I’d been detained by the cops and it wasn’t in my effects when I left. Time was a factor and I was focused upon that. I intended to go back for it afterwards.”
“You have become uncharacteristically fixated upon Mr. Kuryakin as of late, Mr. Solo. Do I need to re-partner you both?”
Napoleon’s head jerked up to stare at his boss. “I beg your pardon, sir?”
Waverly looked up from his tobacco pouch. “I said, Mr. Solo, that a more prudent course of action would have been have attempted to contact Mr. Kuryakin. I can appreciate loyalty, but you do have a mission here and that’s to bring Vickrey to justice. Mr. Kuryakin cannot come before that. If THRUSH is unaware of their operative’s actions, it is even more imperative that he be stopped.” Waverly set it aside and lit his pipe.
“Ah, I believe Vickrey’s doing that to himself. From the reports, he’s suffering from mercury poisoning.”
“Mental instability is a THRUSH trait, Mr. Solo, not a curative method.” He took a deep draw on his pipe and closed his eyes. Napoleon didn’t make the mistake of thinking his boss had fallen asleep. After a long moment, Waverly added, “Find him and stop him, Mr. Solo. I don’t want any flummoxing this time. Vickrey thinks he’s untouchable by now. Correct his view.”
Napoleon headed for his temporary office, his step heavy. The last thing he wanted was another confrontation with Vickrey. His luck seemed to fly the coop when the man was involved. He entered and sat down at his desk. Illya was behind a typewriter, his fingers working the keys even as his attention focused upon his partner.
“Let me guess. Mr. Waverly was overwhelmed by our report.”
“Not the word I’d choose.” Napoleon lifted his feet to his desk. “He wants this finished and don’t get me wrong, I have every intention of finishing it, but I don’t have a clue how. I’ve gone through all our actions, step by step, logically, and come up with a big goose egg. I don’t know how to take Vickrey down.”
“Perhaps that’s the problem, Napoleon.” Illya took off his glasses and massaged the bridge of his nose, a sure sign that he was thinking.
Illya set the glasses aside. “Logic. The man is insane. Perhaps logic is the wrong path this time. Perhaps it’s time to abandon it for something else.”
“What do you mean?”
“Maybe it’s time to meet Vickrey on his own playing field. I say, break out the playing cards and off with his head.”
Napoleon didn’t bother to hide his grin as he dropped his feet from the desk. The thought of Illya dressed as the Queen of Hearts was too good for words. “And would that make you the Red Queen?”
“Smile when you say that, partner.”
“Trust me. There is nothing more I want than to pick up with the ‘discussion’ we were having in our hotel room, but this needs to end first.” Napoleon’s expression grew distant as he remembered. “It seems like a hundred years ago.”
Illya nodded and returned to his typing. “Speaking of such, I suppose we should send someone to pick up our things from the hotel. I could stand a change of clothes.”
“Already done and they set up a room for us here.”
“Work and home, all in one. None of the comforts and all of the stress.”
“But the commute is short.” Napoleon chewed his bottom lip for a moment. “Illya, what you were saying about playing cards?”
“I didn’t, of course, mean to actually dress people as such…”
“But what if we did? What if we lured Vickrey into a trap and made him think it was real? The mercury has already made him unbalanced.”
“We have something he wants… someone he wants.”
Illya’s face paled slightly. “You? No, I refuse--”
“I’m brave, but I’m not a fool. I meant Grigory. He betrayed Vickrey and that has to smart. You know how Vickrey feels about betrayal. We could go in and take over Down the Rabbit Hole, staff it with our own people, and see if Vickrey comes calling.”
Illya smiled tightly. “I’m still not totally convinced Grigory is on our side. He might be a double agent. After, all, no one seems to know much about him. There’s still the potential that THRUSH will show up as well.”
“Then two birds…”
“One Cheshire cat.” Illya’s grin rivaled that of the feline’s. “Perfect.”