Genre: Man from UNCLE
Rating: PG for mild slash
Word Count: 3461
For: aconitumn Maybe this is twisting the rules, but I searched for one image and came up with two. I'd love to see how someone meshes them together, with Illya (and Napoleon, of course) in the mix. I'd prefer slash, happy with gen, no het, definitely TV series, not film.
I hope you enjoy your story and thanks for being part of the MFU-Scrapbook Halloween Challenge! My thanks to sparky955 for her beta on this
It always took Illya by surprise, Halloween. It was not a ‘thing’ in his country. When he first arrived in New York, he was both confused and slightly intimidated by the masked children. Of course, he never said a word to anyone, but he remembered being confronted by a group of children, their faces horribly masked, demanding, “Trick or Treat!”
He’d run from them and hid behind some garbage pails, trembling and fearing this was some sort of death squad he and his country knew nothing about. There was so much of America he didn’t know about and he was still very young. Napoleon would have made his life hell if he’d ever learned that once upon a time, Illya Kuryakin was afraid of trick or treaters.
“A handful of candy corn for your thoughts.”
Napoleon’s voice broke him from his thoughts and Illya glanced over at his partner, still half lost in thought.
“I was just thinking about the first exposure I had to Halloween. I still don’t understand its appeal.”
Napoleon shook out the wrinkles from the opera cape he’d been storing for just such an event. “I guess it’s because it’s a chance to become someone you aren’t and score some candy at the same time. He swung the cape around so that it encompassed both of them and dipped in for a fast kiss.
The mere touch of Napoleon’s lips to his gave Illya a sense of well-being and completion. Who could have known that contentment had been standing beside him all those years? The nearly overwhelming desire to wrestle Napoleon to the ground and take him was tempered by the fact that Wardrobe wasn’t exactly the most secure spot in UNCLE HQ, and especially not at this time of the year.
“Hey, Napoleon, have you seen Illya?”
“I can see his feet.”
“No, what you see is the feet of my victim.” He dropped the cape and pretended to latch onto Illya’s neck, Dracula-style. “Now you are my slave and will do my bidding.”
“Nice try. Do your own paperwork.” Illya wiggled out of the awkward embrace and stepped away. “This time of the year makes everyone a little crazy.”
“Amen to that.” The agent snapped his fingers. “Oh, yeah, I wanted to let you know the space suit you asked about has arrived.”
“Space suit?” Napoleon carefully folded the cape.
Illya grinned. “Not all of us can be Dracula. Thanks, Tommy.” He gave Napoleon a thumbs up and followed the agent out.
Approaching the brownstone where he currently lived, Illya juggled the three grocery bags to get his keys out. Usually he would be more careful, but there were plenty of people, normal, non-THRUSH looking people out and about, enjoying the warm October afternoon. A few leaves skittered along the sidewalk and threw themselves to the mercy of the gutter.
The sounds made him look around until he spotted a gray cat. Illya nodded to it and set the bags down. He knelt and offered his hand. The cat sniffed the fingers cautiously, then more enthusiastically, rubbing against them. Illya smiled and scratched the cat’s chin.
“Wow, you are the largest cat I’ve seen in a long time. Do you live around here, sir?” The people in the neighborhood paid no attention to him. He’d long since gathered a reputation as a cat person. “Let me see what I can do.”
He looked through the first bag, but struck gold on the second. He’d bought the sardines as a special treat, but he had a feeling that the cat’s need was greater. He opened the can and dug one of the sardines out of its oily bath.
“Here you go.” The cat eyes it warily. “It’s okay, see?” Illya took a bite and offered it again. This time the cat grabbed it and took off, pausing after a few feet and looking back over his shoulder. Illya could swear it was asking him to follow. “You have something to show me?”
Illya followed the cat back into the alley and to a cardboard box. A smaller cat looked up from her task of cleaning her litter. The gray cat delivered the fish to the mother cat and looked back up at Illya. Illya grinned and set the tin down.
When he returned a few minutes later, the tin was licked clean. Illya set down a bowl of water and some additional food. He always had cat food on hand. Napoleon joked that it was the only thing edible Illya did keep in his kitchen. While they ate, He put down a clean cardboard box with fresh towels in them. He transferred the kittens, one by one into it, all under the watchful eye of their parents.
“We need to get you out of the elements,” he said to the mother as she jumped in. “Are you coming, too?” he asked the gray cat. The cat seemed to shake its head and Illya nodded. “Okay, so we have to be quiet about this.”
He was settling the box down into the corner of his apartment when he heard a noise at the window. Instantly his weapon was out and he took aimed. Instead of a THRUSH assassin, a large gray cat sat there.
Illya opened the window and the gray cat came in. He looked around, checked upon his little family and then just jumped onto the couch and stretched out.
“You are the clever one, aren’t you?” Illya chuckled and closed the window. “So, what do they call you?”
“Grimalkin?” Napoleon’s face was flushed and his eyes half closed in pleasure as he stretched out on Illya’s bed.
“That’s what he told me,” Illya murmured. He wasn’t moving much, either, except for the heaving of his chest and the pounding of his heart. Another climax like that could do a man serious damage.
“He told you?”
“Yes, if you listen closely, a cat will always tell you its name.”
“But what sort of word is Grimalkin.”
“Scottish. It’s an archaic word for cat in their language. Grimalkin was thought to be this large grey cat during the day and a fierce wild panther at night. Later, the name was attributed to a witch’s familiar.”
The cat in question watched them from his perch on the bureau. He stared, as if trying to make sense of their actions.
“Does he had to watch us?”
“It’s what cats do. Besides, I think he might be a bit of a peeping tom cat.” Illya grinned as Napoleon groaned. “I’ve been saving that one for years.”
“Oh, Illya. That’s a stretch even for me.” Napoleon propped himself up on an elbow and reached for a glass of water. He took a sip and passed it to Illya.
“Just keeping you on your toes.” Illya set the glass aside and brushed Napoleon’s hair off his forehead. “I like you like this.”
“Unfettered. Wild looking.”
“So, this Grimalkin, he’s going to rip us apart while we sleep?”
“You’re planning to sleep?”
Napoleon’s response was lost as he moved in to plunder the tender skin of Illya’s neck, for real this time. Illya groaned and Grimalkin watched. It was what he did.
Illya stared at his reflection in the mirror. He wasn’t sure which Beatle he was supposed to be, but it didn’t matter. They all sounded the same to him. He finger combed his dark brown hair and hoped the rinse was as good as it promised. He didn’t want to have to be a brunet for the next month.
He walked quickly to the cardboard box and checked the contents within. The mother cat, Li Shou, he was cleaning her brood and purring softly to them.
“You are such a good mother,” he said as he gave her chin a scratch. With one finger, he stroked the heads of each of the kittens to accustom them to his touch and smell. When they were a bit older, he’d start handling them, but for now, they needed to be with their mother.
Grimalkin appeared and rubbed against Illya’s leg. He laughed and gave the gray head and ears a good scratching. “Back for dinner, are you?”
Illya was just setting some food down for the cat, when there was a knock at his door. He frowned and checked his watch. Either there was trouble or Napoleon was running early. And Napoleon never ran early. Reaching for his weapon, he looked out the peep hole. All he saw were the tops of some heads.
Opening the door, he looked down at a group of kids, their faces carefully hidden behind grotesque masks. “I think you are a little early,” he said with a smile. “Trick or treating is tomorrow night.”
“Not for you it ain’t.”
Illya heard Grimalkin hiss, then he felt a prick and nothing.
Napoleon found a parking space not too far from Illya’s place and climbed out whistling. The moving van double parked in front of the building, was slowly pulling away as he approached, but Napoleon didn’t think too much about it. New York was a twenty four hour city and people were as likely to move in the middle of the night as they were during the day, more so because the traffic was so much lighter.
He turned to climbing the front stoop and stopped. It was covered with cats, all sorts of cats. He shook his head and grinned.
“Oh, Illya you are in trouble now. The word has gotten out.”
Abruptly, a large gray cat pulled free from the mob and yowled.
“Grimalkin?” Napoleon thought that was the name. The cat answered him back, then anxiously looked after the truck. It hadn’t gotten far. Even at night, the traffic in New York could be a mess. He looked back to Napoleon and yowled again. Napoleon couldn’t help but look in the moving van’s direction. “Is something wrong?”
“They took ‘em.”
Startled, Napoleon thought the cat had spoken, then he spotted a small boy.
“Illya. I hope they bring him back by tomorrow. He gives out good candy.”
Napoleon approached the boy and knelt on one knees. “Who took him?”
“Bunch of trick o treaters. I bet he didn’t have anything and that’s why they took ‘em.” The boy looked after the truck. “I sure hope they bring him back in time for our turn.”
Napoleon ran after the truck. It was too far for him to reach before it sped away, but not for him to catch the license plate. “Open Channel D. Emergency.”
Illya wanted to moan, but his training was better than to give his captors any heads up that he was waking. He could tell without moving a muscle that he’d been bound upright. At least that was better than upside down.
“Isn’t he awake yet?”
Illya forced himself to remain limp as his head was yanked back. “Must have used too much sedative.”
“Am I destined to be surrounded by fools?”
The speaker let his head go and Illya slumped back to his former position. “Not sure how to answer that, boss.”
He risked letting his eyes open a slit, just enough to see a small figure pull a weapon and discharge it towards another. That kept him from reacting to the gunshot, something that the shooter seemed aware off. “I’ll answer it for you.”
The second figure slumped to the ground. “Fools, idiots, incompetents.” He stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
Knowing that it was possible he was being observed. Illya kept still and studied as much of his surroundings as he could without moving.
“Poor Phillipe,” the voice behind him was sad. “I liked him. He was great for a midget.”
“Little person. Boss says they prefer little person. Phillipe was dumb but nice. I think he counted on other midg… little people to be more respective of each other. Guess not.”
“He’s hot to be part of the THRUSH elite and he doesn’t care who he steps on to get there.”
“I didn’t think THRUSH--”
The man’s voice lowered. “Shh, you never know what is and isn’t bugged in here.” Illya was nudged then and moved easily with it. “What about him?”
“He got too much bug juice. The boss said to let him sleep it off.”
“It was a great idea, having them dress in Halloween costumes. Poor UNCLE sap never knew what hit him. And this is the best UNCLE can do.”
“Not the best, but certainly the best bait to catch it.”
“Yup. Nothing brings an UNCLE agent running like snatching his partner.”
Illya moaned inwardly. It was true. This was why Waverly shook up partnerships on a regular basis, but never theirs.
“Hey, you wanna go catch some TV? There’s some great movies on tonight.”
“Shouldn’t we watch him?”
“Like he’s going anywhere?”
“Guess not. Besides, the motion detector will register if he moves. Anything above four feet sets it off. The minute he stands up, it’s all over.”
Their voices faded and Illya sat, contemplating his options. Slumped over like this, he was below the sensor, but he had to sit up to work his bindings properly. If he sat up, he lost his advantage. Still, he felt duty bound to warn Napoleon about the trap he was walking into and the door to his interrogation cell was open, invitingly so. He longed to jump to his feet and be off.
Ilya started working the ropes on his wrists and was startled by something soft. Suddenly, a gray cat leapt onto his lap.
“Grimalkin?” Illya was lost to explain how the cat found him. “I don’t suppose you have a jackknife on you.” He winced as sharp claws penetrated the fabric of his pants. “Guess you don’t need them.”
The cat jumped down gracefully and sniffed at the ropes binding his legs. He chirped and Illya was dumbfounded as cats emerged from the shadows. They joined Grimalkin, touching noses, rubbing against him and sets to work on the bindings.
Illya winced as the claws occasionally caught flesh with the rope, but in short order the rope was frayed enough for him to kick off. There was a sudden jerk behind him and his hands were abruptly free. Remembering what the Thrush guard said, Illya slithered down out of the chair and onto the floor.
Immediately, cats surrounded him, rubbing and purring. He recognized some of them, but others were strangers. Illya got to his hands and knees and crawled to the open door. Grimalkin walked beside him, meowing and chirping.
He got to the corridor and came face to chest with someone.
“I thought you’d be awake by now.” It was the speaker from before. “I wasn’t expecting to have you come crawling to me.”
Illya sat back on his haunches. “Who are you?”
“I am Renaldo Blanc.” The statement carried with it expectation of recognition. His faux self-effacing attitude soured at Illya’s bland expression. “THE Renaldo Blanc.”
“Sorry.” Illya stood and glanced around at his surroundings. They seemed to be in some sort of rundown tenement. “I guess I skipped that chapter in “Knowing your THRUSHes. Where are we?”
“An abandoned building scheduled for demolition. When it blows up, they will never find all of you, just bits and pieces.” The look was pure vitriol. “Until then, Mr. Kuryakin, you will know what it’s like to suffer. I will make you scream my name.”
“I do that all the time.”
“Napoleon!” Illya spun and grinned at his partner. “You’re telling stories out of school.”
“And as I predicted, take one and the other appears.”
Napoleon put a hand to his ear, as if listening to a distant sound. “Yes, but I brought back up. What did you bring?”
“A Lugar.” The gun was out and fired before either man could draw a breath. That didn’t stop them from reacting, throwing themselves aside before the bullet had a chance to find its mark. Blanc laughed and ran down the hall. “You won’t catch me. Low strike zone. And in ten minutes, it won’t matter.”
Grimalkin ran past them after Blanc. “Grimalkin, no, he has a gun,” Illya called after him.
“You know he can’t understand you, right?”
The shadow on the wall went from that of a cat to something much bigger and the responding growl was deep and fierce.
“What the hell?”
“He’s buying us time. Go!” Illya gave Napoleon a push. “Grimalkin, come on!”
There was an answering scream, but Illya didn’t stop to ponder its meaning. He was busy herding Napoleon and the other cats to freedom. “Where did you find all these cats?”
“They found me.”
“What does it mean, in ten minutes it won’t matter?”
“I’ll let you know in another seven minutes.”
Napoleon barked orders into his communicator and UNCLE agents scurried from the building like so many cockroaches. Blanc wasn’t as kind to his fellow agents. A few moments later, there was a muffled explosion and the building crumbled down onto itself.
Illya pulled a chunk of stone off a pile of rocks. “Grimalkin?” He made a soft tsk noise, but there was no responding meow.
He paused at the hand on his shoulder and looked back at his partner. “C’mon, Illya, we need to let Recovery in here.”
“I know. It’s just… he saved me, Napoleon.” Illya pushed another piece of the debris aside, hopeful, yet fearful at the same time.
“He saved us, partner, just like he saved his little family.” Napoleon helped Illya to his feet. “We’ve both had an eventful night. Let’s go home and get you cleaned up.”
“What about our report?”
“I called a preliminary one in already. We can fill in the blanks tomorrow.”
A stretcher passed before them, the sheet covering what could have been the body of a child. “Who was this person, Napoleon? I never heard of him before.”
“According to what we can piece together, he was a THRUSH wannabe. He was going to deliver the big prize to them in the hopes that they would sit up and take notice.”
“Sadly, for him, I fear, he won’t even be a footnote.”
The drive home was made in silence, except for occasional sighs from Illya.
“You doing okay, partner?”
Illya smiled faintly over at Napoleon. “You must think me weak, pining away over a cat.”
“Just the opposite. I love your heart and your willingness to love, no matter the leg count.” They pulled up in front of Illya’s building and he climbed out. “Do you want me to come up?”
“No, I’m okay. I just want to go to bed.”
Napoleon smiled and nodded. “That is an attractive thought at the moment. I will see you in the morning.”
Illya pushed open his apartment door, hoping beyond hope that a gray face would be glaring at him from behind a window.
He stopped and paid his respects to Li Shou, explaining to her how bravely her mate had fought. The blue eyes regarded him calmly and she nuzzled his hand. He gave her a scratch, petted each one of the kittens and made sure there was plenty of food and water. Then he set the alarm and walked slowly to the bathroom.
He didn’t even bother to put on pajamas after his shower. He just dropped the towel to the floor and climbed into bed. He could still smell Napoleon’s aftershave on his pillow and that made him smile. Then the bed dipped and he automatically reached for his weapon without even turning on the light.
Meow. As if to say, “This is how you greet me?”
He flipped on the bedside light and stared at the gray cat. “Grimalkin?”
The cat gave him an answering chirp and then rubbed against Illya’s outstretched hand. That accomplished, he plopped down and began to clean himself.
“It’s a shame that Li Shou traded the ability to talk for being able to laze around all day. How did you--?” Then he realized that even if the cat could talk, this one probably was a cat of few words.
He turned off the light and settled down, content with the feeling of solid weight against his leg. “Boy, do you have a story to tell your kids.”
Suddenly Grimalkin was sitting there, looking into Illya’s eyes and Illya gently stroked the gray head. “Let’s get some sleep. We’ve both had a rough night. Wait until I tell Napoleon about this.”
The cat curled up in the crook of Illya’s neck and began to purr. Illya smiled and had the best night’s sleep he’d had in years.