Genre: Man from UNCLE
Word count: 12,079
This was the story that inspired the latest Batman story I put up. Different, but similar in many ways, I think I prefer this one myself. My thanks to sparky955 for her beta help and kind words. Clickon the title to take you to the full story.
Raymond Bistro stretched out on his bed, thumbing through a report whose sole purpose was to bore the reader and keep some desk bound bureaucrat busy. He ran a hand through his graying hair and pulled off his glasses. Try as he might, he couldn’t keep his eyes focused upon the words. The news of the loss of a fellow Section Two agent weighed heavily upon him tonight. Samuel Hawthorn had been a good agent, smart, loyal, dedicated, all those years of service and experience snapped out of existence in a mere blink. To have him die in something as mundane as a plane crash almost seemed obscene.
His wife walked from the bathroom, dressed in a heavy terrycloth robe and toweling her hair. She saw his serious expression and sat down quietly upon the bed next to him. She draped the towel about her neck and reached for his hand. Ray smiled at her, comforted by her presence. While it wasn’t fair that Waverly would pull an agent from active duty for marrying, he didn’t begrudge a day of his decision. She’d easily been the best thing that ever happened to him. “Penny for your thoughts, mister,” she murmured softly, as if afraid to intrude upon his thoughts.
“I just can’t believe Sam’s gone.” He reached over to put an arm around her to pull her close. “I was just talking to him three days ago and now he’s just a tick mark in a different column today. It’s just not fair, Sara.” He kissed the side of her head and sighed.
“It isn’t fair when anyone dies, Ray. It was just their time. If it were our fate to decide who lived and who died, that would make us as big of monsters as the people they died trying to stop. It’s not our place to second guess decisions made by a higher up, big guy.”
“I know, but I don’t have to like it.” He kissed her head again, burying his nose in her freshly shampooed hair. “Now we have bigger fish to fry.”
“What do you mean?”
“Do you think Franklin can handle the CEA spot? He’s only been Number Two for six months and out of Survival School for less than two years. I’m just not sure he has the experience for the job. I like him, he’s a great guy and he’s going to make a fabulous Number One someday, but not today. I just don’t think that now is the time to put him in charge.”
“What does the Old Man think? Ultimately, it’ll be his decision. He’s the one who will have to work alongside him more closely than anyone else.”
“He was on the phone to Waverly when I left. Probably getting his advice for all I know. I’m not opposed to putting a young guy into the slot, but someone that green, it’s like you’re asking for trouble. Frankly, and brace yourself for this, I’d rather have… you know… the Russian… Kuryakin.”
“You’re going to feel that in the morning,” Sara said, with a laugh. “Considering the love, or lack thereof, between the two of you, I’m really surprised at your choice. Could it be you’re mellowing?”
“No, just admitting the truth. He is the logical pick and, all personal feelings aside, God knows the man’s worked hard enough for it.”
“It would make Franklin crazy… er. I only know what I’ve heard come down the pipeline, but with Kuryakin’s reputed lack of a sense of humor, department meetings would be a blood bath. I understand he’s a sort of no nonsense kinda guy.”
“You have no idea. How he and Napoleon ever manage to carry off a partnership, let alone a friendship is anyone’s guess. Still, if you look at their record, there has to be something there, they remain the top team in the agency. If the Old Man really wants someone more qualified than Franklin, may God have mercy upon our souls, Illya is the only choice. And he has been Number Two for three years now. He’s got the experience, the training and the qualifications to make the move. However…” He nuzzled her ear, his breath tickling it. “I don’t think he’d ever leave New York or… Napoleon.”
She rested her head against him, rubbing at a strand of hair with the towel. "You honestly don’t believe those rumors?"
Ray laughed and shook his head. "Napoleon? Not possible, that man is a born skirt chaser. I can absolutely vouch for Napoleon. Whether Kuryakin is or isn’t, that’s anyone’s guess. No, honestly, I think he’s happy where he is and that’s that, at least to his way of thinking.”
Sara tossed the towel aside and froze. She started breathing heavy and then let out a scream. Leaping from the bed, she started to shake and cry. Immediately, Bistro was beside her, holding her, his expression a mixture of confusion and concern.
“Sweetheart, calm down. What’s wrong?” She clutched at him and sobbed, unable to catch her breath. Scanning the room, he immediately saw the culprit. Slowly, making it way towards them was a spider, its legs cautiously poking a path before it on the bedspread. "It’s only a Daddy Longlegs. Now stop, you’re going to hyper-ventilate.”
"I don’t care. Get rid of it!”
"The heat must have driven it inside." He reached down and let it crawl up onto his fingers. "It's harmless. Just a common... ow!" He dropped the spider and it hurriedly crawled away, dropping off the side of the bed. "The damned thing bit me."
This was enough to shake Sara from her earlier scare. She took Ray's hand and examined the spot. "Should I panic and call a doctor?"
"Naw, they're not poisonous. Let's go to sleep instead. I’m going to need a clear head tomorrow. The Old Man wants me in early and I suspect it’s going to be a very long day, especially if the topic of you-know-who is going to be delved into."
"Okay, if you think you’re all right." She looked around for the spider but it appeared to have retreated to a safe haven. “I’m sorry I over-reacted like that. It’s okay when I know they’re around, but I just hate it when they surprise me like that.”
“Hey, I’m the fearless spider defeater!” Ray thumped his chest and then coughed. “Anyway, it’s why they pay me the big bucks!”
“My hero. And you’re sure you’re all right?”
“Perfect, sleep now, please.” Ray waited for her to settle down beside him and clicked off the light.
Sara’s complacency rapidly grew into concern as Ray began to toss and turn, his skin growing hot to her touch. Without bothering to turn on the light, she reached for the phone, feeling a prickle upon her forearm. Any thought that she might have spared for it was replaced by panic when she realized the line was dead. She clicked the receiver several times in a vain attempt to convince the instrument to function, but to no avail. Failing that, she flicked on the lights to find Ray’s communicator and started to scream at the sight of the spiders, crawling upon the bed, over the furniture and upon the now lifeless body of her husband.