A cup slammed against the wall, splattering into useless pieces of pottery.
"I want to go to Disneyland!" The cup was followed by a vase.
"Therese, my darling, be reasonable." The elderly man dodged a pillow.
"I don't want to be reasonable; I want to go to Disneyland." Therese Gadbredeau stormed about her silk and velvet bedroom, tiny fists clenched in rage, face red with rage. Armand Gadbredeau stood before her, his hands spread helplessly.
"Therese, I am Section 1, No 1 of Europe. If THRUSH were to get its hands on you, I would lose you to them just as I lost your mother those many years ago. Please try to understand my position. You're far too valuable to me to tempt fate in this fashion."
"I don't care about any old THRUSH. I spit on them. If you don't let me go, I'll..."I'll...defect!"
"To whom? Her father suppressed his chuckle. "To THRUSH? The ones you spit upon? Oh my word." He laughed openly at his flaxen-haired daughter. "You've too much of your mother in you for me to deny you anything, my sweet. Alex still owes me a favor from the last fracas his Section 2 boys caused here. He should be able to come up with something. I shall give him a call."
"Yes, my sweet."
The girl's anger changed immediately into joy and she flung her arms wide to gather her father so that they could dance in a circle as she sang, "I'm going to Disneyland!"
Napoleon Solo smiled as his date rested her head on his shoulder. He fingered a lock of soft red hair. On the screen in front of them, James Bond was making yet another impossibly daring escape from fate. The woman sighed, openly impressed with the screen hero and Solo found himself wondering what her reaction would if she were to discover that he wasn't too far behind Bond in matters of international intrigue and derring-do. He and Illya did all right, though their escapes weren't usually as flamboyant, and he could never pass his blond partner off as one of Bond's incredibly supple female companions.
Solo pulled the lady closer - and felt a burning sensation against his left pectoral. He brought a hand up to inch the communicator away from his skin. A handy inclusion that heat signal he reasoned as he hurriedly excused himself and headed for the lobby.
Sliding into one of the phone booths, he brought the communicator to his mouth. "Open Channel D please."
"Ah, Mr. Solo," answered Alexander Waverly's voice. "I was beginning to despair. I wasn't about to reach Mr. Kuryakin and was worried that you would be unobtainable as well. I'd like both of you to report to my office within the hour, if possible." As if Solo could refuse. At least the movie was almost over, but Waverly's invitation meant Solo would be sleeping solo tonight. "If not, then you alone will have to do." The channel went dead and Napoleon grimaced at the thought of ruining a perfectly good evening of watching spies to go play one. Sighing, he reached into his pocket for some change and slid it into a yielding telephone slot.
The clamor of the noise in New York City never stopped, but if one was lucky, it might take a slight breather, so that the finer sounds of the city could be heard. This was not such an occasion, for unless one stood and purposefully listened, one missed the strains of much that flowed from the basement of the old run-down basement.
Illya Kuryakin frowned in concentration-tapping his foot in time with the rest of the band, fingers dancing lightly over the valves of his horn-and then he closed his eyes in sincere pleasure. Here, among the other musicians of amateur band, Strauss's Radetzkys March was real and his life with UNCLE was but a distant dream.
The music ended with a final crescendo and Illya let his instrument drop. The room was filled with the voices of his fellow musicians as they critiqued each other's performance and waited for the next piece. As Illya flipped through his sheet music, a phone rang out sharply above the voices. A plump and matronly woman holding a cello grabbed it before the second ring and listened intently into it for a long moment and then held the receiver out.
"Illyusha, it's for you."
The dream became a crashing reality as Illya picked up the phone and grudgingly murmured, "Yes, Napoleon?"
Thirty minutes later, Illya bounded down the few stairs to Del Floria's tailor shop, carrying an instrument case and finger combing his hair into place. The aged man behind the counter looked up from his pressing machine and granted the slender Russian a smile.
"All work and no play, Del," Illya warned with a smile of his own. "You keep it up and you'll wind up just like me."
Floria chuckled, "I thought you were gone for the evening."
"Me, too." Illya made his way to the back to the curtained fitting room, stepped inside, maneuvered a switch and found himself in the reception area of UNCLE' s New York headquarters.
The receptionist beamed brightly up at him, vainly trying to attract more than his usual neutral glance. Unlike Solo, who mixed business with pleasure as much as was humanly possible, Illya preferred to mix business with business, much to the chagrin of UNCLE's female staff. Realizing regretfully that she'd never get any closer to him than handing him his badge, the young woman expertly performed that service and informed him briskly. "Mr. Solo and Mr. Waverly are both waiting for you." She sat back to admire the view.
The Russian appeared not to notice and held out the horn case to her. "Thank you. Could you store this for me? And please be careful with it, no unnecessary jarring."
She accepted it with reverence and asked, in a hushed voice, "Is it some sort of new exploding device?"
Illya darted a glance around the area and leaned closer to the woman to murmur, "Worse than that, it a genuine French horn." The corners of his mouth twitched up into a small smile and he winked before hurrying down a route he'd taken many times before.
Napoleon Solo grinned at his partner as he entered the office. Solo gestured to a chair and brought up a cautionary finger to his lips. Kuryakin lowered himself into the padded leather seat before he saw the reason for Solo's action. Alexander Waverly's Section 1, Number 1 of the North American branch of UNCLE was cradling a phone close to his ear. The old man looked his age this evening, somewhere around 180, Illya decided as he shifted to get more comfortable.
Waverly hung up the phone and leaned back, his unlit pip resting in his mouth. "Gentlemen, we have a slight problem," he began without preamble. "I have recently been contact by Armand Gadbredeau."
"He's still living in Paris with his daughter?" Solo asked.
"I remember hearing about her," Illya interrupted. "Terrible Teresa, they call her. Apparently ever since her mother died in a THRUSH ambush, her father has attempted to make it up to her with over-indulgence. Never a wise choice and always a detriment to the child."
"Spoiled is the term, Mr. Kuryakin and I fear those tales have not been exaggerated. I have met or rather collided with the young lady on a number of occasions. She's fine as long as you keep out of kicking range. Hiding in the stubborn little girl is the making of an excellent agent; THRUSH would very much like to get its hooks in her. This is why I have called you here. Teresa has decided that she would like to visit Disneyland and, typically, refuses to take no for an answer."
"Brezhnev did," Illya muttered. "Eventually."
Waverly rubbed his neck reflectively. "Armand and I have been good friends for a long time, gentlemen. It's not the security the Disney people could provide wouldn't be sufficient, but I'd prefer to rely upon our own operatives. To that end, I would like for you both to accompany her. Especially in light of the slight disruption the two of you caused during your last visit to Paris" Waverly paused as Solo and Kuryakin exchanged guilty looks; they both preferred to forget about that particular affair as much as Waverly liked to remind them of it.
"I suddenly feel a Section 2 resignation coming on," Illya said. "Napoleon, do you know of any openings in the secretarial pool?" He slouched in his chair in mock despair. "My typing skills aren't that bad" he added.
"Yeah, but you look lousy in a skirt. Illya, I'm surprised at you," Solo scolded. "She's just a normal, run-of-the-mill child, though maybe a little indulged." He returned to Waverly. "I'm confident of our ability to protect her, sir."
"Far be it for you to admit that there was one woman in the world you couldn't handle," Illya pointed out.
Solo ignored the jibe. "Besides, I know for a fact that you've never seen Disneyland, my friend. Here's your chance to let your imagination take flight."
"I'm Russian, Napoleon; we lost our imagination a long time ago. It's assignments like this that make me miss the KBG - or even the Lubiyanka."
"But she's only a child," Napoleon Solo protested.
The dark-haired man sat quietly and calmly regarded the lobby of the Disneyland Hotel. At his side, the shorter slender blond flipped through the latest copy of Disneyland News. Both U.N.C.L.E. agents were anxious, neither enjoying the last few minutes before they took possession of Teresa Gadbredeau.
The front doors open and in strutted a girl, flanked on either side by haggard-looking men. She was tall for her age, even more so with her honey-colored hair piled high on her head.
"There you are, Napoleon, a typical child, wearing all French originals if I'm not mistaken. Absolutely picture or normality and I think the mink stole set it off quite well," Illya said, drily, letting his magazine drop.
Solo rose to his feet gracefully, dusting off his suit jacket. "How would you know a French original from a bargain basement special?"
"I dated a fashion designer when I was at the Sorbonne. One is all it takes to shake you down to your core." Illya also rose to his feet and let his hand drifted towards the butt of his holstered Walther P-38. "Just so that you and I are clear, you take care of the girl; I shall address any interfering THRUSH. At least I know I stand a chance with them."
Solo cast Kuryakin a last disapproving look and walked to greet the girl, while Illya, ever cautious, lagged behind.
"Teresa Gadbredeau? I'm Napoleon Solo." He turned on the patented Solo charm, only to have it ineffectively slide off her.
"It's Therese in French." The girl ignored him, enraptured instead by the lobby. Teresa abruptly addressed Illya. "You must be the Russian my father warned me about." She stroked the end of her stole. "I don't understand what the women in the office find so attractive about you." She looked at Napoleon - "Or why they call you that funny name...what is it? A stud?" She snorted delicately. "I've never met a Russian who knows how to dress. You have no imagination in clothes; you do know that, don't you? Do your people even care?" She turned a poised back on an eye-rolling Kuryakin. "I'd like to go to my room now. I'm ghastly tired." She fluttered a delicate hand across her forehead as Illya gazed beseechingly at the ceiling. Solo chivalrously extended an arm what his partner took over from the Los Angeles UNCLE operatives.
"Any trouble, Randy?" Illya murmured to the closest man.
"Only from her. Personally I think she's one of THRUSH's latest weapons. What a hellion!" The agent watched as Napoleon guided her to the elevator. "I pity the man destined to be her future husband."
Illya grunted. "Perhaps our Petruccio can tame the shrew." His joke went over the agents' heads and after a long moment he continued, "Thanks and we'll contact you should something come up."
"Good luck, you'll need it." Randy slapped his on the shoulder and fell into step with his partner. Both seemed extraordinary interested in beating a hasty retreat.
Illya spent a few minutes in front of a gift shop, examining the people who casually passed by. After deciding that they were tail free, he walked away slowly to the elevator.
A shrill bell ripped through the hotel room. Napoleon Solo grappled his way free of the bedclothes, immediately awake, and flipped on a light to locate the source of the disturbance. Beside him, Illya Kuryakin groaned, burying his head beneath a tangle of pillows and blanket. Solo reached for the phone as it rang a second time. "Solo here."
"This is the main desk, sir. You left a 4:30 wake up call."
"There must be some mistake, I did not leave any such request. One moment please." He dropped the receiver and looked to his left. "Illya, did you leave a request for a wakeup call?"
"How likely would that be, Napoleon?" The reply was muffled and Solo smiled at the lump under bed clothes. He picked the phone back up. "I'm afraid we didn't leave a wake-up call with you."
"The young lady was very specific about the room number, sir."
"Young lady. It's all beginning to make sense now. Thank you, ma'am."
Illya poked his head out from beneath the covers, sleepily blinking behind a curtain of ruffled hair. "What was that all about," he managed after a gigantic yawn.
"You say the most intelligent things in the morning."
"So would you if you were having the dream I was."
"I think I was. It would appear that our Miss Gadbredeau left us a 4:30 wake up call."
"Should I hit her now or would you care for the pleasure?" Illya pulled his tee shirt down from around his neck as Solo rose to pluck a robe from the foot of the bed. Securing it tightly, he opened the first adjoining door to Teresa's room and knocked on the second, none too gently.
It opened and Teresa appeared, fully dressed in a pair of bright green overalls. "So you're finally awake," she stated flatly. "But you're not ready and the Russian isn't even up."
"Define up," Illya muttered, returning to his nest of pillows.
Solo scowled at him. "Ready? Ready for what, Teresa? I know there's a time change from Europe, and also that you are excited, but there's nothing open this early in the morning. You need to go back to bed."
"I don't want to miss anything!"
"Nothing opens until 9 at the part," Illya offered from beneath a pillow.
"We won't be late, Teresa, I promise," Napoleon argued as he started to close his door. "Now go back to bed and go to sleep."
"But I have no one to even talk to." She pointed at the bed. "You have him." She pointed at Illya.
"Go to bed, Teresa." Solo felt the slam of her door even through his.
Illya Kuryakin braced his head against a palm and sleepily closed his eyes. Neither man had been allowed any further sleep thanks to Teresa' constant interruptions. She called, she knocked, and she pounded upon the wall until Napoleon feared the whole hotel was awake because of her. A sudden stab to his shin brought him to sharp attention and he sat back to glare at her. "Wake up, Illya," Teresa said, her voice carrying through the coffee shop. "Or did someone tire you all out last night?" She stared pointedly at Solo.
Illya frowned, fighting down the flush in his cheeks. In his opinion, this was hardly a topic for discussion in a restaurant, especially in Disneyland's finest. Solo brought a napkin up to hide his smirk. The Russian had managed to land a couple of good jibes when Teresa had introduced Solo to the waiter as her 'aged father', discovering one of Solo's few weaknesses. Now the ribbing was on the other foot as Teresa discovered how easily Illya was flustered by overt sexual innuendos and she hammered him with them. Solo stirred his coffee and decided it was time to rein her in.
"So tell me, Teresa, how would you like to get to Disneyland? We have the monorail that's right above our head, or the tram that leaves from the lobby."
"The tram, I think. I want to be able to see the whole park, but I want to start at the main entrance and do it properly."
"All right." Solo was agreeable. "What about a camera?"
She reached into a pocket and brought out a small object. Illya's eyes widened and he leaned across the table to deftly snatch it from her.
"Where did you get that," he whisper demanded.
"It's mine, give it back!" She held out an insistent hand.
"If it's yours, then you're under arrest for being a Soviet spy. This is standard issue for KGB, not a visiting Section One's daughter."
"Look who's calling the kettle red." She added as an afterthought, "I got it from Papa's collection," "Now give it back!" Teresa raised her voice slightly on the last note.
Solo, amazed by Illya's lack of finesse with the girl and judged it was time for his to step in. "Teresa, we can't have you flaunting a top lever secret like that around. Tell you what, when we get to Disneyland, we'll get you another camera and Illya can use this one." He turned back to Illya. "You do know how to use it?"
"Of course I do, but I won't" Illya held the camera as if it was infectious. "I could get into serious trouble, Napoleon. This isn't for unauthorized use."
Teresa's face brightened at the thought. "All right, that settles it. You use the spy camera and I'll get a Polaroid." She laughed at Illya's feigned nervousness. "Now, as soon as you," she indicated the Russian. "Change, we'll be ready to go. You have no taste in clothes, you do know that." Illya looked down at his usual black suit and tie outfit.
"You do stand out a bit, old friend," Solo sipped his coffee. "This is Disneyland, after all and you look like you're going to your grandmother's funeral. Why don't you go change into something cheerful and give Uncle Alex a call. Teresa and I will shop around din the stores for awhile." Twinkling hazel eyes waited for Kuryakin's response.
"I own nothing cheerful," Illya muttered, stuffing the camera into a pocket. He rose swiftly and strode away.
"Madam would be so displeased with him" Teresa scowled at the Russian's back. "He certainly doesn't have your taste in clothing." For the occasion, Solo had donned a light pair of poplin pants, a polo shirt and a blue windbreaker to hide his holster and weapon.
"My dear, I couldn't agree with you more."
"He also is lacking in social graces," Teresa pushed on, examining her nails, pleased to have an agreeable audience.
"It's not that he lacks them, Teresa, he just chooses when and where to use them." Solo signed the check and guided her to her feet. "You see, it's much easier to have them and pretend that you don't, than not and pretend that you do. Illya can be quite gracious when he wants. Why I remember the last time, of about three years ago, he was definitely gracious, but just for a few minutes. Couldn't keep it up or people would start to talk." He paused by a flower cart to select a pastel green carnation to match her overall and then smiled as she held up a Mickey Mouse tee shirt. "Isn't that a little large for you?"
Teresa glanced in the direction of the elevators. "It's not for me, Napoleon."
Napoleon Solo regarded the two people before him: Teresa, excited and anxious and not bothering to conceal it from anyone; Illya, just as excited and anxious, but for entirely different reason, and trying to hide both from the world. Solo, too, felt that familiar pull of tension as he scanned the crowd. He spotted several people who looked familiar and yet he wasn't sure. He unconsciously moved closer to Teresa as they stood before the rope that confined the crowd to the Main Street section of the park, pending the actual opening. Teresa did not wait well and both men were nearly exhausted from trying to keep her from ducking the rope. Only a handsome security guard striking up a conversation with her on the history of the park produced an immediate change in her demeanor. Solo sighed, delighted for the respite.
With one last smile to Teresa, the guard backed up and cautioned the crowd, "We do ask that there be no running. There will be plenty of time for you to see everything you want. Please don't let your day be marred by an injury."
Illya slipped a finger through the shoulder strap of Teresa's overalls, tugging her back towards him and she turned to glare at him. "Remember, Teresa, it's 'walk don't run'. Speed kills."
She sighed and repeated after him. "No running, Illya, yes, I'll remember." The rope dropped and several people took off at a steady jaunt, but the French girl walked quietly between her escorts. Abruptly she reached into the pocket of Illya's sweat jacket and yanked out the spy camera he'd hidden there.
"Hey," Illya yelled as the girl broke into a dead run. "Teresa! You get back here with that!" He bolted after her, leaving behind a head-shaking Solo.
"Remember to walk, not run, Illya," Napoleon called after the pursuing agent. He trailed the two at a more leisurely pace, enjoying the sights and sounds of the park, but also using the time to see if anyone was paying their guest any unwarranted attention. By the time he caught up with the pair, they were already in line for Space Mountain, a high speed roller coaster. Illya managed to get the camera back with his usual lack of subtlety and was reprimanding the girl, who couldn't care less about anything he said. The ride was two to a seat, so Napoleon decided to sit this one out. His eye caught a passing Disneyland employee and his mouth curled up into a devilish grin. Bu the time Illya and Teresa had exited from the ride, Napoleon had secured her name, phone number and address.
"Come on, Illya, one more time. See, the line's not that long. We could right back on it." Teresa tugged at his hand insistently, but the Russian had a definite green tinge to his face.
"Bozhe moi, not again." Illya staggered sideways, trying to strike up at least a friendly rapport once again with his equilibrium. "Now I know why I avoided these in Russia." Not proud at all, he collapsed onto a bench beside Solo. "Napoleon, you go with her this time. I have to remain stationary for a moment. As soon as the park stops spinning, I will be fine."
Solo clapped a sympathetic hand to his shoulder. "You're getting old, my queasy friend. Let an expert show you how it's done. I was practically raised at Coney Island," he confided to Teresa.
"You grew up in Vermont," Illya mumbled, pulling up his head for a brief chastising glare.
"I commuted." Solo didn't miss a bet as he led the vivacious girl back into the ride's entrance.
They exited from the ride and Solo felt a surge of panic when he didn't spot Kuryakin immediately. The he was a bank of nearby pinball machine and he suddenly knew where he'd find Illya. A quick slap to Illya's back made him relinquish the game to a waiting teen, but not before winning a free game.
"Her Grace wants to shop." Solo explained as he readjusted his windbreaker over his broad shoulders. Illya, fully recovered, kept up his guard as they entered one of the several shops, for he had come to realize that there seemed to be a pair of men who just happened to continually be in the same place as they were: the entrance to the park, the ride and now here.
"It might be time to leave, Napoleon," Illya murmured, nodding toward the pair.
Solo squared his shoulders and marched off after Teresa, who was closely examining a locket. A movement caught her eye and she point to a row of moving seats nearby. "What's that?"
Solo shrugged as a soft Russian-accented voice from behind him answered, "It's an interactive ride through inner space, according to the sign."
Teresa hurried replace the necklace. "Let go on it. I'm ready."
"What do you think, Napoleon?" Illya noticed that the two men were drawing closer as it to overhear.
"It's her day, Illya." Solo followed as the girl began to head for the ride and then he noticed the same two men that Illya had. In more advantageous position than Solo, Kuryakin stepped up beside the girl, effectively blocking her from them. Then abruptly the two men turned and rushed away.
"Watch her, Napoleon, I'm going after them." Illya ran out, but he soon returned, his Slavic features clouded with disappointment. "I lost them in the crowd. There must be a hundred people out there."
"Strike one," Napoleon murmured.
After having worked their way through Tomorrow land, managing to avoid Autopia, Rocket Jets and the People Mover, the trio arrived in Adventure land. Solo could help feeling himself growing tenser. Surely THRUSH wouldn't attack Teresa in full view, no matter how important her father was, or would they? The little incident of an hour before nagged at him and he finally gave vent to his frustration. "THRUSH certainly is quiet," he murmured to his partner, when they stopped to buy popcorn.
"Not quiet enough to suit me." Illya stood with his hands in his sweat jacket pocket. "We've been joined...again." Illya casually motioned with his head as they joined the line for the Jungle Cruise.
Solo followed the nod and saw a familiar face. "So we stick really close to her," Solo said, sotto voce, glad that Illya was on guard. Napoleon kept Teresa near as they boarded the ride.
The safari guide began to explain that all the blue cushions were floatable in the case of an emergency and Solo caught Illya looking down at his and then at the several other red cushions. "Illya, he was making a little joke."
"Remind me to tell you later what I think about American humor." Illya crossed his arms over his chest and made a vow to ignore the guide's future remarks.
Teresa squealed with delight as they passed a herd of elephants and, as she clapped her hands together, even Solo found himself swept up in the glory of Disney's audio-animatronics. Only Illya's cold scowl at the forest sobered him.
"We appear to have disturbed a bunch of sun-bathing hippos," the guide was saying as Solo leaned across Teresa's lap to ask a question. "There's nothing to worry about unless they start to wiggle their ears.
"Oh no," Teresa gasped and caught Napoleon's arm as the largest hippo shook his ears at her. As the guide brought out a gun to fend off the encroaching hippos, Illya slipped his P-38 out of its hidden holster. While their intrepid guide unloaded several banks into the mechanical animal, Illya deftly used a single mercy bullet to fell his own trophy. He slipped the weapon away before anyone could notice him, zipping the jacket shut over his polo shirt.
"I'm sorry, Napoleon, did you say something? I was distracted by a bird."
"Did you get a good look at him, Illya? Solo stopped in front of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
"I'm not even sure if was a THRUSH. With my luck, it was a poor maintenance man." Illya reached out to snag an overall strap. "Slow down, Teresa, we can't protect you if you keep running off."
The girl smiled and removed his hand from the strap. "Therese," she correctly sharply, punctuating the correction with a stomp of his foot. Illya yelped as her shoe dented the top of his boot. Teresa smiled sweetly and entered the ride.
"Remind me of this, Napoleon, should I ever get the crazy desire to have children." He matched Solo's pace, limping a bit. "If she were mine, I'd not stand for this behavior."
"If she was yours, she wouldn't act like this, but she's not yours and Waverly did warn us about getting within her strike range." Illya's glare was enough to silence him for the moment.
They slid into the front seat of the boat with Teresa fixed firmly between them, Solo on the right, Illya on the left. The ride through the bayou and down the ramp went smoothly, except that everyone in the first seat was splashed on the way in - and they slowly made their way into another of Disney's fantasy worlds. Solo watched the look of sheer rapture on his young companion's face. Even Illya was awestruck by this man's vision.
A movement to Solo's right drew his attention away from the pirates; he stared down at the black water to see a frogman rising from it. Nonchalantly, Napoleon positioned his elbow, waited until the diver drew even with it and then slammed his right fist into his left palm. It connected a solid 'thunk' and the frogman silently slid back beneath the waves.
Illya steadied the boat as they climbed from the dock. ""Disney's auto technology is simply incredible."
"Manifique," Teresa agreed, haughtily, ignoring his outstretched hand. "I'd like to have lunch at the restaurant was passed on the way in, The Blue Bayou, I believe it was called. Napoleon, make reservations. Illya and I are going to the Haunted Mansion now."
"Is that another roller coaster?" Illya asked tentatively as Solo picked his way back towards the restaurant.
Illya was vainly trying to concentrate his attention upon his food, but fates seemed to be determined to keep him equally on edge. He couldn't take his attention away from that black expanse. There were so many places to hide, some many things that could be easily concealed that he found his normally voracious appetite waning. He pushed his partially empty soup bowl away and stared out into that dark environ. The fireflies, peculiar insects, flicked their lights on and off in a seemingly random pattern. Illya smiled wryly. If he used his imagination, the fireflies could be passing THRUSH code. He stiffened slightly and only Solo's trained eye caught the motion.
"Unless I'm going crazy, which is a distinct possibility, given our assignment, or I am becoming paranoid, equally possible for the same reason, I'd say two of those fireflies have picked up a rather strange dialect.
"Wha...?" Solo didn't even bother to finish the question as he stared at his obviously-deranged partner. "THRUSH? Can you tell what they're up to?" A silence of several seconds passed, broken only by the serving of their main course.
Illya ignored his Monte Cristo, still studying the artificial swamp. Mystified, Teresa sat forward and waved a hand in front of his face.
Illya sat back abruptly, as if he'd been burned. Blinking, he glanced over at the girl with a scowl. "Thanks, Teresa, now I shall never know how that joke turns out." He paused to study the fried bread before taking a hearty bite of his sandwich and chewing rapidly.
"They're telling jokes?
"They're bored." Illya mumbled around his mouthful and took another bite.
"They're losing their touch...was it any good?" Napoleon was mildly interested and Illya indicated Teresa with a jerk of his head.
"I'll tell you later." He swallowed, took another bite. "They are planning their next attempt upon the Matterhorn."
"How? The ride reaches speeds of 80 miles an hour," Napoleon objected through his jambalaya.
"They haven't lost that much of their touch, old friend, but they do have something arranged."
Teresa piped up, obviously unhappy at being left out of the conversation. "Good, I can't wait to find out what it is."
"Are you crazy?" Illya gained another bruise, this one on the shin. The momentum of the kick nearly landed him in his plate. "The next time you try that, I'll..." Illya pointed a finger at her, "Do something..."
Napoleon grabbed the finger and lowered Illya's hand. "Mr. Kuryakin, I'm sure that Miss Gadbredeau isn't aware of the fact that your hands are licensed weapons. Otherwise, she'd never provoke as she does. Isn't that right, Teresa?"
"He doesn't scare me," she stated, chin out.
"He scares me," Napoleon said, smiling.
"So do we risk it, Napoleon? It's her life we're playing with..." Illya trailed off and Solo glanced over at the Russian, whose attention was back on the swamp. He sat up sharply and frowned, slipping his hand inside his jacket. "We've been spotted. Napoleon, you need to get her out of here now."
"But I haven't finished my lunch," she protested sullenly.
"Come along, Teresa. I'll buy you a Mickey Mouse." Solo held her chair out for her. Excited, she scrambled to her feet and handed Napoleon an armful of packages, then preceded him out, her head held high.
Illya toyed with his fruit cup, stalling. Once he decided that the THRUSH agents weren't going to make a move to trail after his partner and their charge, he paid the check and slowly wandered back into the mainstream of the park.
He spied Napoleon and Teresa in the small hat shop. As Illya drew closer, he saw Teresa accept a hat with a shiny pair of Mickey Mouse ears attached to it and plop it upon Solo's head. Spurred by what he could consider sheer genius, he slipped the camera out of his pocket and snapped off several shots. Satisfied, Illya tucked the camera away, stepped back around the corner and paused to call Napoleon's name softly.
When he reasoned the agent had had time to hide the hat and regain his composure, Illya allowed himself to spot them and assumed an air of irritability as he stalked up to the pair. "Where have you been? I've checked nearly every shop in New Orleans Square. You have me concerned."
"We'll do what we want." Teresa thrust her chin out at the Russian and dragged a bag-laden Solo away to peer into still another display case. Abruptly, she straightened. "I want to go on the Matterhorn now."
"Be reasonable, we just ate." Solo patted her head.
"No, that is incorrect. I dined, you consumed and Illya...learned a new dirty joke, so he can come with me."
At the suggestion/command, the Russian agent paled. "Not another high speed roller coaster. I'm not cut out for life in the fast lane. Napoleon, you go with her."
"Illya, pauvre petit choux, size is the important factor here. Napoleon nearly squashed me to death in the last ride. You weigh far less."
"I'm suddenly feeling the need for a sudden weight gain." Illya started to walk away, but Teresa's hand caught a handful of blond hair. He stopped to avoid certain baldness and his blue eyes clouded with anger.
"Let's go, mon ami."
Napoleon knew Illya would have taken an enemy to the next plane of existence if he tried such a thing, but killing one's charge was a bad thing. He also knew the Russian was getting close to the cracking point and it was up to him to step in. "Teresa, let him go." Napoleon's voice was firmer than it had been all day and apparently it triggered something in the girl. She immediately disentangled her fingers from the hair. "Now, apologize or this day ends here and now. I think we've both had just about enough of your little fun and games. There are people here who want you dead. That might not mean much to you, but it should. We are here to protect you and it was be very unwise to give either of us a reason to hesitate should that situation occur."
"You wouldn't dare. My father..."
"Trust me, I dare. Now, apologize." There seemed to be a battle of the wills for a moment, then Teresa's head dropped.
"I'm sorry,' she mumbled.
"I can't quite hear you, Teresa." Napoleon prompted and her head came back up, her face somber.
"I'm sorry, Illya. Can we please go on the Matterhorn now?"
"Yes, of course," Illya said, exchanging a 'now I'm worried' look with his partner.
As they started down and around a curve, Illya had to admit, albeit grudgingly, that the Matterhorn wasn't quite as bad as Space Mountain. At least he could see where he was going. Teresa had resorted to high-pitched scream, obtainable only by a young girl, and both she and Illya were crammed into the far corner of their car by centrifugal force. Illya didn't fight the pull, wishing instead that he carried a bit more weight on his frame.
A Yeti behind a snow bank roared at them as they passed and Teresa shouted bravely at it, laughing at its threat. They zipped around the corner and the Yeti loomed over them, its roar several times louder.
Teresa screamed and threw her arms around Illya's neck and he toppled awkwardly to the side. At the same instant, there was a sharp crack and the Yeti's roar was cut short, the victim of a THRUSH bullet. Immediately, Illya pressed Teresa closer to him, covering her as much as he could with his body.
They shot around the last curve and Teresa let out a final squeal as they were thrust back out into bright sunlight. Napoleon spotted them as they were exiting the ride and he approached expectantly.
"You should have seen it, Napoleon," Illya said, one arm still around the girl's shoulders.
"Seen what?' He asked, frowning at Illya's sudden familiarity with Teresa.
"I should have seen what?" Solo tried again, a bit louder. "Is your hearing going now?"
"You try having her scream in your ear for ten minutes and see where it leaves you."
As they walked away, Illya explained. "THRUSH was waiting for us across from the Yeti. Teresa panicked, grabbed me and THRUSH ended up shooting the Yeti instead. It's going to take the maintenance folks awhile to figure out what went wrong."
"Didn't know it was Abominable Snowman season."
"It certain was abominable." Illya agreed and then turned his attention to the girl, who was still hugging his side. "Where now, Teresa? Preferably something slower."
The French girl laughed and dipped from under his arm to dart away towards the drawbridge to Cinderella's castle. Illya heaved a half-hearted sigh and started after her.
Napoleon followed, admiring the multitudes of young women who seemed to overrun the park. He paused to help one poor thing with her camera. She was having shutter problems and Napoleon set it for her and then snapped a few shots for her and her friends. He caught up with his partner in Merlin's Magic Shoppe where Illya was demonstrating a magical trick.
"There has to be more to it than that," Teresa was protesting as Solo arrived.
"There isn't," Illya said, setting the trick back down onto the counter. Teresa sighed and shook her head sadly.
"You have disillusioned me," she said, waving her hand slightly as Solo approached.
"So how about another boat ride, Teresa?" Napoleon suggested as they exited the shop. He pointed to the Small World display.
"If it's half as good as the ticking is loud, it should be something," Illya said, listening to the mechanical ticking of the clown-face clock of Small World.
"Two o'clock already? Where is the day going?" Teresa wondered out loud.
"If it's going fast, you must be having fun," Illya said as he stepped into the boat. He reached up for her to help her swing down, during which she managed to plant a firm foot into his groin. Illya made a noise akin to a ripe melon being squashed and crumbled down.
"I didn't mean to do that, Illya," Teresa sputtered, looking wildly from him to Solo and back. "I really didn't. Not this time."
"Are you all right, sir?" The attendant steadied the rocking boat, his face a model of sympathetic understanding.
"No," Illya squeaked, still bent over, his teeth gritted again the pain, eyes twisted shut against the tears that welled up.
"I'm really sorry, Illya, really I am." Teresa hesitantly reached out to awkwardly pat his shoulder. She was doing a good job at playing the innocent, but Napoleon wasn't entirely convinced that was the case.
"If I thought you did that on purpose, Teresa, I'd turn you over my knee," Napoleon muttered, taking his place in the boat.
"There wouldn't be enough left," Illya whispered, his face still pink. He sat up a bit straighter, wishing he could adjust himself with calling undue attention. Already the song It's a Small World was beginning to wear on his nerves.
By the time the ride was over, both men and the girl sat, slightly glassy eyed.
"Teresa, and I do not make this request lightly, but I will give you a dollar if you will kick me again. Anything to get that song out of my head." He glanced over at Solo. "You don't think THRUSH...?"
"Don't give them any ideas, Illya." Solo turned his attention to the girl. "What now, my queen?"
"Somewhere where I can see the whole park and make sure I haven't missed anything." And she pointed back up to the tram overhead. After a brief stop at the restroom for both Teresa and Illya, for vastly different reasons, they headed up the strangely deserted ramp to the skyway that would take them back to Tomorrow Land.
Illya led the way commenting, "I'd think this would be more popular. He walked to the station.
"It usually is, when we're not too busy out-smarting U.N.C.L.E. agents," a strange voice answered him. Solo reacted quickly enough to collapse upon an already fallen Kuryakin. Teresa tried to scream, but a hand clamped hard over her mouth. Instead, she concentrated on chewing her way through the hand. "For God's sake, will you hurry up, Clarence? She's almost gotten to the bone!"
The THRUSH agent, Clarence, glanced over as he finished loading the two unconscious UNCLE agents into a tram car and set the tram in motion, adjusting the controls so that it would stop short of the Matterhorn. Then he hastily climbed out of the attendant's overalls and then held the squirming, kicking, biting girl while his partner removed his costume.
Clarence held a gun to the girl's flaxen hair and pressed it against the soft skin there. "You know what this is, n'est-ce pas?" He waited for her quick nod. "Manifique, now we are going to take a little walk through the park, just the three of us and call your father. Until then, if you as much as think about screaming, I'll blow your beautiful head off your shoulders."
He removed his restraining hand from her mouth and Teresa licked her bruised lips. "You dirty pigs, what have you done with Napoleon and Illya?"
"Nothing that you haven't tried to do to them a dozen times already today. In fact, the rest is probably feeling pretty good to them right now. When the mechanic wakes up, they will rescue your UNCLE bodyguards, but we will be miles away from here. Let's go!" He gave her a rough shove to get her started while his partner lagged behind to hang up the 'Sorry - out of order' sign back across the ramp way.
Napoleon Solo smelled something. In fact, it reminded him a lot of the shampoo Illya used. Puzzled, Solo wrenched open an eye, but all he could see was out-of-focus yellow fuzz. He pulled his head back and realized he'd been staring at Illya's head. The man lay heavily on top of him on an equally uncomfortable small space.
"Illya, wake up," Napoleon whispered. "Please, Illya." He hunched a shoulder to jostle the blond. The Russian stirred much to Solo's discomfort and finally opened his eyes to look directly into Solo's.
"Napoleon, what are you doing down there?"
"Acting as a mattress for you, it would seem."Illya struggled to sit up, forcing a rash of uncharacteristic cursing from his usually self-restrained partner. "What the hell is in your pocket that keeps grinding against my hip?" Napoleon complained as Illya got himself upright and onto a seat.
"We appear to be stuck." Illya said, glancing over the side of the tram.
"I could have told you that." Napoleon grumbled, sitting up. Why didn't they tie us up?"
"Why bother when we're eighty feet in the air?"
Solo got to his feet and glanced up at the cable. "What degree of a slant would you say we're on?"
"I'd say no more than fifty, probably about thirty. Why?"
"I saw this done in a James Bond movie." Napoleon began to unbuckle his belt.
"Napoleon, you are confusing reality with fantasy then. If you tried to slide down that cable with your belt, you will get perhaps four feet before the leather gives way." Illya knelt and opened a floor compartment to remove two pieces of chain. "As I recall, Mr. Bond used these."
"How did you know they were there?"
"You and Teresa were busy looking at the park, so I checked it out the tram when we rode over this morning. I'd hoped they were standard equipment in each of the trams."
"So how did you know about Bond?"
"I saw the same movie. I'm not one for escapism, but one of the secretaries is and she sort of conned me into it."
"I don't know what is more intriguing, the thought of you being at a Bond movie or someone conning you into anything." Napoleon said, as Illya stood on a seat to flip the chain over the cable. The truth be known, Illya didn't really care much for heights, but his chosen career didn't allow for any phobias to be part of it. He tested his weight against the chain, waiting for Solo to join him. The tram swayed, off balanced. "I remember seeing a service platform just as you pass the Matterhorn, drop when you get them and we can take the stairs down. We will be hard pressed to hold on much beyond that point." Illya pushed off and Solo watched the interested bystanders below point up at Illya as he skidding down the cable. Shaking his head, he followed his partner.
Just as his hands were about to go numb from the pain, Solo saw his partner release one end of the chain and fall. Napoleon gratefully let go of his chain a moment later and dropped lightly to the service platform. He spent a moment shaking the feeling back into his arms before pointing to a door, but their egress was halted by a locked door.
"Damn it, now what?" Illya slammed a hand against the iron door. He was in too much of a hurry to attempt to pick the lock and Napoleon pointed to a bank of lockers.
"There's our ticket out." Napoleon grabbed a pair of overalls and tossed them to the Russian, who pulled them on. Napoleon was busy with his own pair and when he looked back, he smirked. "Looks like you'll have to roll the cuffs up a little, my friend."
"Why do you Americans always assume everyone is the same size?" Illya complained, folding up the sleeves.
"It isn't America's fault that you come in the small single serving size, Illya. Now, to the outside and we'll climb down the service ladder.
Solo led, descending down the ladder concealed in the mountain side. Illya allowed Solo a head start and used the time to get his bearing. His eye caught the small Disneyland train and his brow furrowed as he squinted.
"Napoleon" he shouted. "The train! Look, they're on the train." Solo followed Kuryakin's point, spotted a splash of color from Teresa's green overalls. He picked up speed.
Solo's feet hit the ground and he spun to give chase, only to stare at the chest of a security guard. Illya joined him a breath later and warily took his place at Solo's side. "Going somewhere, gentlemen?" the man inquired politely. "We don't care for our guess to go climbing all over our equipment, although the slide down the tram cable was impressive. Since the ride was closed for the season, I'd like to know how you got up there in the first place. I think my boss would love to chat with you. "
Napoleon uneasily regarded the growing crowd. Normally he'd whip out his wallet and show the man his ID card, but with the increasing amount of people, he was reticent. He could feel a trickle of sweat run down his spine as he finally muttered, "Um we can explain all of this - really."
"Oh, Napoleon, you really blew that take," Illya muttered, shaking his head. "You're supposed to say, 'My God, we're surrounded.'. How hard is that? When are you going to learn your lines? You're going to get us fired just like you did from our last job."
"Take, lines?" The security guard floundered. "What are you talking about?"
Illya took the security guards arm and led him a short distance away, speaking softly. "We're filming a movie...I'm sorry, we're trying to film a movie, if he'd remember what he's supposed to say and when. You think we'd do all this stuff without getting paid for it? " A heavy set gentleman was edging forward in the crowd to see what all the excitement was about and Illya locked eyes with him for a moment before returning his attention to the guard. "That's the director and he doesn't look happy." He walked back to Solo's side and grabbed Napoleon. "You're in trouble now, Napoleon." Glancing again at the heavy-set man, Illya spoke a little louder. "Yes, sir, we'll do it again." Illya tugged Solo away from the confused guard and bystanders. The second they turned the corner, they both took off running towards the train.
They arrived at the train station just as it was leaving. "Illya, they're gone." Solo panted to a stop on the platform, indicating a seat now occupied by a young harried looking woman and two young children.
"Look around, they couldn't have gone far, and with those green things on, she'll stand out." Illya spun, scanning the crowd and a dash of color caught his eye. He took off with Solo close behind.
A riverboat whistle blew as they sped by and Illya jumped, startled by the sound. Napoleon grabbed his shoulder and pointed to the Tom Sawyer rafts. Occupying a raft of their own were the two THRUSH agents and a struggling Teresa.
The next raft was unloading, slowly, too slowly for their purposes. Exchanging no more that fleeting glances, the UNCLE agents stripped off their overalls and headed for the water. Pausing only long enough to shed their jackets holsters and shoes, they plunged into the murky water.
Solo swam hard, fury and a strong sense of purpose driving him on, but Illya's powerful strokes pulled him ahead to reach the raft while it was still midstream. He grasped the edge of the wood, heaving himself up-and caught Clarence's shoe beneath his chin. He let out a protesting gurgle and collapsed, half on, half off the raft. The THRUSH agent kicked him soundly in the side and Illya grunted in response.
Solo used the distraction to get aboard before either of the enemy agents could stop him. Teresa struggled free of her assailant and flung her camera at Clarence before he could land another blow to Kuryakin's midsection. Clarence dodged the camera, but it had given Illya just enough time to gain his footing. The raft rocked as the four men scrambled and fought with each other. Teresa ducked into the scant protection offered by the cabin and shouted encouragements to whomever seemed to be holding the upper hand at the moment.
"Hold on a minute," Clarence shouted, blocking a blow aimed at his mouth. However he missed the uppercut and sat solidly down on the wooden deck. Illya yanked him to his feet, arm pulled back, ready to deliver another blow, but the THRUSH raised his hands above his head in surrender.
The other THRUSH agent also threw up his hands. "I agree! You want her, you can have her. I just want to live long enough to make sure I have serious discussion with my girlfriend about having kids. She's put me off them for life." He pointed at Teresa.
"Yeah," Clarence agreed. "I've gotten more than I counted on with this assignment. You guys deserve a medal for putting up with her at all.
"Just let us go," the other argued. "You won't have any more trouble from THRUSH this trip. She's more than enough."
"You're hardly in a position to bargain." Illya frisked Clarence's paunchy frame until he located his weapon, then he pushed the man away from him.
"That's true, of course," Clarence answered. ""But we're low level, you wouldn't get anything of importance from us anyhow. Even your interrogators are better than her!" He pointed an accusing finger at Teresa.
She crawled out to fling her arms about Solo. "For an old man, you were wonderful!" She planted a huge kiss upon his bruise cheek and then repeated it with Kuryakin, hugging him to the point of pain. "And you, manifique!"
It was then that they heard the applause. A huge crowd, now clapping wildly, was watching from the banks of the river.
"Incredible. You can write this one up, Napoleon." Illya muttered and then to the THRUSH agent. "So, how did that joke turn out?"
Napoleon Solo threaded his way through the cold, steel-grey corridors of UNCLE HQ - New York, feeling refreshed and relaxed after his vacation. He stopped before an innocuous-looking door and it slid open for him.
"Good morning, Mr. Solo," the woman at the desk said. "I'm glad to see that you made it back in one piece."
"With only fond memories and even fonder regrets." He smiled at the woman who served as both his and Illya's secretary. "Anything I should know about?"
At that instant, a second door opened and a lab-jacketed Kuryakin emerged, walking fast, his head bent in thought.
Solo smiled and grabbed him as he passed. "Whoa, son, don't hurry so much. It's bad for your liver."
"Napoleon!" Kuryakin grinned at his partner, obviously happy to see the man. "When did you get in? How was Palm Springs?"
"Very...um...hot. And I got in a couple of days ago. Where have you been? I tried calling you, but only got your recorder."
"Here, I'm afraid. We've been trying to perfect the new laser rifle before the big UNCLE conference in Switzerland. Waverly thinks it will be good publicity for our labs. The only trouble is that we can't get the light differentiating switch to function properly. Instead of putting a hole in the wall, it took out the entire wall. It was rather spectacular." He buried his hands in the pockets of the lab coat. "I'm on my way now to see Waverly about it. He...ah...isn't very happy."
"I can understand why. Well, have fun and remember his bark is worse than his bite. Maybe we can grab dinner tonight." Solo punched him lightly in the shoulder and walked into the cubicle that served as his office.
"Do you think he'll see it?" The secretary was mildly curious.
A half-strangled cry came from within the room and Illya grinned. "He saw it."
"But will he kill you for it?" the woman continued as Solo charged out of the cubicle, his fist clenching an enlarged poster of himself wearing a chagrined expression and a Mickey Mouse hat.
"Illya Nichovetch Kuryakin!"
"Opps, only my mother calls me that." Illya retreated a step. "I guess that means you haven't seen the ones I put up in the steno and typing pools?"
"What?" Solo dropped the photo and raced from the room.
"Illya, you didn't?"
"Nope, I didn't, but by the time he discovered that, I shall be safely ensconced in Waverly's office." Illya set his shoulder and walked casually from the room. The secretary merely shook her head and returned to her work.