Genre: Man from UNCLE - Gen
Word Count: 775
When the world is at stake, Napoleon turns to an old friend for help. This is borne out of a discussion I was having with ethereal_waves, so it's only right that I dedicate this to her. And my thanks to sparky955 for her beta
When you get to be as old as I am, not very much surprises you. I have seen generations and prosperity come and go. I have seen wars, watched great cruelty and witnessed incredible courage. I have survived feasts and famine and remained strong.
But I am lonely, so very lonely. It used to be that I would have visitors, friends who would spend time with me and tell me their great hopes and dreams, but not anymore. Everyone is in a hurry. Now they run by, too busy to pause and share a smile with me. Well, not always, but most of the time.
I miss one the most. He was a special boy and he had dreams, such big ones, and he would swear that one day he would return and tell me all about his adventures. I waited for years, watching the seasons pass from summer to fall to winter to spring and then back to summer. He never came back. They never do.
Summer had been long and hot. The sun, so much warmer then, now cooled and with it, I began to entertain shedding my summer clothes for something more colorful. Autumn always makes me happy. Soon, the harsh winter winds would chill me to the bone, but today, today it was time to celebrate the harvest.
I was contemplating whether I wanted red, orange or yellow when I saw a figure, half running, half staggering up the rugged path. Not many people came this way anymore. In the distance, I could hear voices and that seem to spur the figure on.
He managed to reach my side before collapsing in a heap.
“Hello, old friend. Fancy seeing you here.”
With a start, I realized it was my little friend, back home after so long. There were a dozen things I wanted to share with him. So many things that I didn’t know where to even begin.
“Remember how I used to sit here and talk about all the things I wanted to see and do?”
“Well, I’ve done them all. Most of them anyhow.” He coughed and that’s when I realized something was wrong. Something was dribbling down his arm and staining the ground. “I had so many other things I wanted to do, but now.” He shuddered in pain and looked to the distance. The other voices were getting closer and I could see the sun glinting off something in their hands.
“Too late now. Too late for me… too late for everyone.” He slowly pulled something from his pocket. “This will be our undoing… and the world’s. And I was too weak, too slow, and too old.”
Old? I wanted to cry. You are just a boy! But I could see he was passing. I could feel it. Still, there was something that I could do. I concentrated and in one fell swoop dropped everything I was holding. He was quite buried beneath the layers and quite hidden.
Did he know? I thought not for he never moved.
The men ran up, looked around and kept running. I watched them disappear in the distance, suddenly confronted by another group and then they were subdued and bound.
A half hour passed and I was faced with yet another visitor. There was something different about this one, though. He had a different aura surrounding him. I instantly knew I could trust him.
He smiled at me and looked around. “Tell me, friend, why are you bare and no one else is?”
As if in answer, a wind blew, uncovering the face of my old friend.
“Napoleon!” The second man gasped and fell to his side. He pulled something from his pocket and spoke into it. I overheard the words, help, found him, now, but mostly I busied myself standing guard. It was what I did best.
“Illya?” My friend’s voice was weak. “How did I…?”
“I was about to ask you the same thing. Do you have the disc?”
“I do…” He passed it over as his companion helped him sit up. The world was now safe and that seemed to give him a renew strength. “I used to play here when I was a kid. When I realized where we were, it was the only place I could think of to come, but how did I get in this leaf pile?”
He looked up at me, my bare branches against the sky and he knew. I don’t know how, but he just did. He patted my trunk and smiled kindly. “If I were to hazard a guess. I’d say you have friends in high places.”