Word count: 1043
Napoleon watched as one of San Francisco’s finest pulled out a desk drawer and dumped the contents onto a desk top. He could hear Illya’s sigh and longed to reach out for his partner. It was hard to believe so much had changed between them in such a short time.
Less than a week earlier they had boarded a plane, the strain in their relationship visible even to strangers. At that point, it had never occurred to Napoleon that Illya had viewed him as anything other than his partner and possibly a friend. Now they were so much more.
“Subtle,” Illya muttered and for a moment Napoleon wanted to send his hands on a frantic search of his suit to find the cause. He glanced over his shoulder and realized Illya hadn’t taken his eyes off the officer.
“When they are searching for something, they don’t need to employ our level of stealth.” Kevin Lean was making notes in a small black book. Napoleon suppressed a smile. They all had one of those little books, although for different uses.
“I suppose you are right. How is Jack doing?”
“Not happy about being sidelined, but he’s healing.”
This did make Illya turn back to his fellow agents. “Think he’ll be up for dinner tonight? It’s the least I can do for having him get beat up in my stead.”
“It’s not often Illya ends up in one piece after an assignment,” Napoleon said to Kevin, making no pretense of not having been listening. They were all agents and knew the drill. “Or me either for that matter. I guess we should be thankful for that. ”
Illya chuckled softly, obviously delighted to have escaped Jack’s fate. “What’s Del going to do without having to repair a suit for you, Napoleon? Or bookkeeping? I suspect they’ll bring you in for an audit of the clothing allowance if you don’t put in for at least one new suit.”
Napoleon managed a half smile at the pair as the captain approached them. He started talking even before he arrived. “We are just about finished here. We didn’t find anything.”
“Vickrey is smarter than that. He’d never leave sensitive material where anyone could find it. Be it SFPD, UNCLE or even THRUSH. He might have been quite mad towards the end, but not in the beginning.”
“At least this chapter is over.” Kevin licked the tip of his pencil and jotted down something else. “We are quite sure he’s dead and not just wounded?”
“They are performing an autopsy as we speak. I was just speaking to the coroner.”
“Like that’s any guarantee.” Illya was sorting through a stack of papers left on the desktop and just happened to look up then.
The cop had moved to a file cabinet, its lock a victim of gunfire. He reached to yank open a drawer and Illya shouted, “Stop!”
The cop froze in place, his face a mix of annoyance and fear. He looked back at Illya as he gently shoved the man aside and took his place. “What’s wrong?”
Illya pointed to a wire running along the floor board. “Possible nothing, but in our line of work, a cautious agent is an older agent. Illya picked up a flashlight and traced the wire. “It looks like there’s a charge leading to this cabinet. If you don’t know how to open it properly, this could quite literally go up in your face.”
The office swallowed and stepped back even further. “Thanks. I… just thanks.”
“No problem.” Illya studied the wire carefully as Napoleon knelt close to his side.
“Can you disarm it, Partner?”
“Can a baby go goo?” Illya smiled tightly. “However, would you be so good as to clear the area? If I’m going to blow anyone up, I’d prefer it to just be me.”
“Don’t. I have my own plans for you later.” Napoleon squeezed Illya’s forearm and winked.
Illya nodded. “Of all the people of whom I am fond, I’m fondest of myself. I’ll be careful.”
Napoleon stood and turned from Illya. “Captain, could we move everyone back?”
There was a loudly barked order and the office cleared of everyone, except Illya. Napoleon looked back over his shoulder at the Russian, whose full attention was only on that wire.
“Will he be okay?” Kevin bit his bottom lip.
“He taught explosives at Survival School, at Cutter’s request.”
“He’ll be okay.”
Napoleon returned to the Captain’s side. “Will the SFPD be willing to share the results of their autopsy of Vickrey with UNCLE?” Napoleon asked. He was pretty sure they weren’t being given a choice, but he kept the question polite and his smile genuine.
The answering grin was tight. “What? Oh, as soon as the report is filed, we will be sending along a duplicate to UNCLE. Is your man qualified to disarm bombs?”
“Yes, thank you. Among other things, explosives is his specialty. When we have an issue, he’s the one we call.” He offered his hand. “UNCLE appreciates your cooperation, Captain.”
“I appreciate the help in getting this scum off the streets. You think whatever remains of the operation will be abandoned?”
“It’s a pretty safe bet. THRUSH tends to cut and run at the first sign of trouble and we have still got to wonder how much of this was their idea and what part was just Vickrey’s delusional quest for power. I just wish we could have found out more about the buyers for his victims. It would have been nice to have been able to liberate them.”
“Never say never, Napoleon.” Kevin closed up his notebook and tucked it away just as Illya exited the office. He was wearing a pair of dark-rimmed glasses and scanning a sheet of paper, shaking his head.
“I don’t believe it.”
“Something?” The other three men were all attention.
“Vickrey’s mark up on drinks in this place was seventy five percent. He truly was insane to be gouging his customers like that.” He waved over his shoulder. Oh, by the way, the cabinet is clear.” He made a halfhearted attempt to hide his smile and failed as he let the paper fall from his hand. “I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to go home.”