Genre: Man from UNCLE
Word Count: 1155
Prompt: Write a list of 25 (or just 5!) things you want to do in your life.
My thanks to duche55 for playing along. I hope you enjoy your little tale. Also, thanks to sparky955 for, well, everything.
“Yes, Napoleon?” He didn’t open his eyes from his prone position in the airline seat. They were someplace over the Atlantic with another four hours to go in their flight. Sleep had been just another victim of this affair and he was determined to try and catch up before their debriefing. Mr. Waverly was never impressed when you fell asleep on him.
“Do you have a ‘To Do’ list?” Napoleon watched as the stewardess checked on a sleeping passenger, turning out her reading light and adjusting her blanket.
Illya managed to get one eye open. “You mean when I get to New York? Shower, shave, and maybe get something to eat before seeing Mr. Waverly. That’s the best case scenario. I don’t give any of them much hope, though.”
“No, bigger than that.” He returned his attention to his partner.
“Try to unbury my desk unless there’s another assignment.”
“Even bigger than that. I mean, do you have a ‘To Do list’ in your life? What are twenty-five things that you’d like to do?”
“No. The reality is that we could be dead tomorrow. I’d rather not die thinking about all the things I never accomplished.”
“That’s my little ray of pessimism.”
“I’m Russian, sue me.”
“I’m American. I might.” Napoleon rubbed his forehead.
“Still have a headache?” He studied his partner closely. “You got hit pretty hard.”
“It’s just the jet lag. I’ve crisscrossed the Atlantic so many times this month, I don’t even know what time it is. I worry about retirement.”
Illya reached out and wrapped his hand across the back of Napoleon’s neck, squeezing gently and rhythmically. Napoleon leaned into it, his eyes closed for a change. “I know what you mean. You go so long and so hard, then suddenly you’re made to stop. What then?”
“And you realize you have nothing to show for your efforts except scar tissue and bad memories. Have you thought about what you want to do after you hit mandatory retirement age? Would you stay with UNCLE? Buy and farm and raise turkeys? Or maybe travel.”
Illya laughed quietly, mindful of the people around them luckily and happily asleep and sat up. “Travel? To be honest, I think I’d rather plant roots somewhere. I’ve had enough travel this month alone to suit most people for their entire lives.”
“But there’s a difference in doing it for work and doing it for fun.”
“I will have to give you that point as I haven’t tried it for fun yet.” At the lack of an answer, Illya paused and Napoleon settled back in the seat, more asleep than awake.
“Is your friend all right?” The stewardess bent so close that Illya could smell her perfume as she settled a blanket around Napoleon.
“Too much excitement.”
A week later and Napoleon could not be more bored. A week at headquarters was like a month in a drainage ditch. Because of his head injury, he was put on desk duty. Illya had turned around and caught a plane somewhere, but Napoleon didn’t know where and Mr. Waverly wasn’t sharing.
He tried to refocus his attention to the incoming recruits when his door opened and Illya entered, limping slightly.
“Illya, welcome back. Long trip?”
“They are all long these days.” He dug something out of his pocket and tossed it to Napoleon. He caught it easily and grinned.
“Marabou? You were in Sweden?” Napoleon began to unwrap the bar. He was especially fond of Swiss milk chocolate.
“The last leg, at least. Emelie sends her best.” Illya limped to his desk and sat down slowly, wincing as he sat.
“What’s going on?”
“Is that Russian for something? Did you just call me a name?”
“No, it’s your tailbone. I cracked mine. You don’t know what pain is until you do that.”
“I was thinking hemorrhoids.” Napoleon didn’t bother to hide his amusement.
“Don’t even go there.” Illya started to take off his jacket and then seemed to remember something. He searched his pockets and finally pulled out a grimy piece of paper. He held it out to Napoleon. “Here.”
“While I was being held for questioning in Andorra, I needed something to do. The guard gave me some paper and a pencil.” Illya smiled as he picked up a Number Two pencil. “Stupid, really.”
“The fact that they didn’t think I could escape with just a pencil.” He shook his head. “Before that, though, I thought about what you asked.”
Napoleon was lost until he unfolded the sheet. There were numbers one to twenty five, but only the first five were filled out.
“Live long enough to see retirement. I can understand that one.”
“It was the gimme of the bunch.”
“Number two, keep Napoleon alive until retirement.” He laughed. “Another gimme at least from where I’m sitting. Number three, retire. I’m with you on that one as well. Number four, invest wisely. Invest what?”
“Sadly, that is my stumbling block as well. If a certain partner wouldn’t keep borrowing money from me…”
“Point taken. Number five, do whatever Napoleon wants to.” He stopped. “I don’t understand.”
Illya ducked his head and turned away. “Let’s be real, Napoleon. The job has pretty much ruined me for any sort of lasting relationship. Even if I wanted one, she’d need hazard pay just to be around me.”
Napoleon nodded. Even after deprogrammed, flashbacks and nightmares were inevitable. Coming awake fighting was always an issue. “I can understand that. But with me?”
“If you’ll permit it. I know you better than I know myself. Who else to spent my golden years with?”
“I was thinking a little place by the sea, quiet, peaceful…”
Illya interrupted. “A beach full of lovely young ladies to ogle.”
“Scenery is important at any age.” Napoleon set the paper down and held out his hand. “It’s a deal.”
“You are certain?” Illya shook his hand.
“I’m game if you are. Of course, we might kill each other the first year out.”
“I could think of worse ways to perish.” Illya hissed as he moved.
“Yes, the others are really a pain in the butt.” Napoleon managed to dodge the pencil at the last minute. He caught it and held it up. “Point taken.
“Oh, no, what have I done? I’m going to be holed up with a punster.” Illya dropped his head to his desk.
“Better than a spinster and it could be worse. We could be married, till death do us part or longer, if necessary. And as I recall, you did say that we would always have each other.” Napoleon got to his feet. “You take it easy and I’ll get something from the canteen.”
Suddenly, Napoleon felt okay about retirement and he could tell from the grin on Illya’s face, his partner felt the same and that made all the difference in the world to him.