He crouched down in what little protection he could find. He winced as his hip reminded him that such antics were neither appreciated nor condoned any longer. If he got out of this unscathed, it would take a long soak in a hot bath and possibly professional medical help to make his body happy again.
Illya didn't care. What mattered now was his escape, with at least some shred of dignity still intact. There was a whisper of noise and he reacted, but too late. He took the hit in his shoulder and immediately felt the wetness as his shirt soaked through.
He spun and unloaded his own weapon, ignoring the screams that followed, his trigger finger not stopping until the gun was emptied. It still wasn't enough. His attacker continued firing, catching Illya in the chest, stomach and leg.
Hand to hand then, Illya decided and grabbed for the nearest body part he could find. There was a squeal and then the clearing of a throat, dainty and delicate.
Both of them stilled and looked up at the tiny person glaring at them. The hair and the mouth were Napoleon's, but the eyes were pure Kuryakin.
"Poppy, you are disturbing us..." Irina stomped her foot with all the force that a three-year-old could muster. Illya exchanged a guilty look with his four-year-old grandson.
"Mea culpa, little one," Illya said, caressing her dark hair and kissing her forehead.
That didn't soothe the child. She waggled her finger at them. "You should act your age, Poppy."
"Yes, Mr. Kuryakin, a little decorum from you would be nice, for a change." Napoleon said, chuckling, his knees splayed at he tried to find a comfortable position on the tiny chair.
Illya sat up and ran his damp sleeve across his face.
"I got you," Alex said. "I got you good... a kill shot!" He squirted his grandfather between the eyes with the water pistol.
"Yes, you did... but you are... ticklish." Within seconds, Illya had the boy wiggling on the carpet, dissolving into squeals of laughter. Irina shook her head sadly. "Grampy, what do we do with them?"
Napoleon carefully lifted his Kool-Aid filled plastic cup and sipped from it. "You merely love them, my sweet. That's the only sane thing to do."
"It's difficult when they are so unlovable at times." She passed him a plate of cookies and the movement caught Alex's attention.
"Hey," he stopped, staring at his sister. "You didn't say cookies were part of this tea party thing..."
"You didn't ask." Irina shielded the cookies with her body. "And these are ours."
"Where does she get that attitude, Napoleon?" Illya asked, getting slowly to his feet. "I'd say you've been giving her lessons."
"Me? How dare you!" Napoleon did his best to look affronted. Illya hooked a finger at the young boy and Alex leaned closer. After a moment, he nodded slowly.
"If you don't want us here, we'll go play somewhere else." Then Alex launched himself at his other grandfather and Napoleon, suddenly finding his arms full of the wiggling boy, struggled to keep his wits about him and not tip over and take the table with him.
There was a squeal and Napoleon saw Illya scoop up their granddaughter and give her a toss into the air. In that moment of distraction, Alex had the cookies and went for immediate cover behind his bed, squirt gun in hand.
"Over here, Poppy! Keep low. I'll cover you."
Seated on the couch, Leon glanced up at the thump and just shook his head. "I don't know who's worse - the kids or our fathers." He switched from massaging one of Lisle's feet to the other and she sighed. Leaning back as she was, she looked like she'd swallowed an extremely large beach ball. One hand absently rubbed her side and she frowned.
"One of them is. There seem to be a lot of territorial disputes these days." She sighed. "I am so ready to be over this pregnancy. You should do something permanent so this doesn't happen again."
"Me? Why me? You're the one stretched out on the table. You do something."
"You're the one who keeps getting me pregnant."
"It isn't my fault - If you weren't so damned sexy to begin with." He leaned forward to kiss her.
"My complexion is pasty, I'm big as a house and my feet are so swollen I look like I'm wearing clown shoes when I'm barefoot."
"And you are still the most beautiful woman I know." Leon's hazel eyes grew soft as he stroked her blonde hair gently.
"You need to expand your horizons, mate."
"And have you kick my ass? No thanks, been there, done that." There was another loud thump and he sighed. "Someone's going to be crying..."
"We should go up and advise caution then. I don't want to have to peel your father off the floor again."
"What makes you think it would be my dad?" Leon grinned and then he winced at the whump. "Forget I asked that. I'm guessing they found out about the cookies."
He climbed to his feet and help Lisle achieve verticality. "If I get any bigger, I'm going to have to take out my own zip code," she muttered, rubbing her lower back. "I'm going to check on dinner."
"Good idea, I'll do the recon."
He climbed the stairs, two at a time and stopped by the bedroom door. He smiled, wishing he'd had the presence of mind to have grabbed a camera. Both UNCLE agents were stretched out on the bed. His father had his daughter cuddled in his arms, her dark head resting against his shoulder. Alex was cuddled up beside Illya, his attention totally focused upon his grandfather. Illya was reading something, it sounded like something about Frog and Toad and was the perfect choice. If anyone understood the bonds of friendship, it was his father and Illya.
Leon sensed a presence beside him and glanced over as his wife joined him. "Have they finally settled down?"
"I think the kids finally wore them out. Your dad's reading to them." His arm went around as much of Lisle as he could manage. "I used to love it when Mom read to me."
"Mine never did. She said it coddled me. I had to teach myself."
"Your mother was a bitch."
"My mother was all THRUSH. She was a 'spare the rod' sort of parent. I'm glad Dad isn't that way. They're really great with the kids." Lisle rested her head against him
"I wish we'd known them when we were kids..."
"Me too." She smiled, a little sadly, looking very much like her father in one of his pensive moods. "But that wasn't to be, so now we celebrate today."
He kissed her forehead. "Okay you two, into bed now."
"Us or the children?" Illya asked, taking off his glasses.
"For all the noise you've been making, we should send all of you to bed."
"But, Daddy," Alex protested even as he slid off the bed towards his own. "We were just getting to the good part." He climbed beneath the blankets and crossed his arms. "Mr. Toad was about to get Mr. Frog's letter... and find out what a good friend he has."
"Well, if you're very good, then maybe someone will finish the story tomorrow night." Lisle brushed the blond hair off his forehead. "Why are you all wet?"
"That's Poppy's fault."
"And why doesn't that surprise me, Dad?" She tried to look severe, but Illya had adopted a wide eyed look of innocence as he stood.
Illya merely grinned and offered his hand to Napoleon. UNCLE's Section One, Number One, climbed off the pink bedspread and deposited a kiss on his granddaughter's head. "One for sweet dreams." He kissed her right cheek. "One for you." He kissed her left cheek. "And one to wake up to." She wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged.
"I love you, Grampy."
"I love you too, sweetheart."
"And what about me?" Illya asked, leaning down.
"You are a cad and a scoundrel, Poppy." She kissed him and hugged him tightly.
Cad and a scoundrel? Illya mouthed over her shoulder at his partner. Napoleon shrugged his shoulders.
"If the label fits, I suppose...," Illya murmured, tucking Irina in and kissing her tenderly on the forehead, while Napoleon repeated the process with Alex. They started to walk to the door.
"Poppy?" Alex's voice was slightly muffled as he snuggled down into his blankets. Illya glanced back.
"I'll get you tomorrow..."
"I'm sure you will. Sleep now." He pulled the door shut and turned to face his daughter. "What?"
"I'll get the heating pad," she said, smiling. "You two are as bad as the kids."
"Don't be lecturing me," Napoleon said. "I was having a perfectly dignified tea party... until someone stole the cookies. We had to defend what was rightfully ours."
"That's okay, Chief, we've got more downstairs to compensate for the ones you lost." Leon draped his arm over his father's shoulders.
"What makes you think we didn't get them back?"
"I'd say a little bird told me, but considering our heritage, I'll skip the remark." Lisle led the way down the hall, waddling slightly. "Dinner will be ready in about five minutes if you want to wash up..." She eyed her father. "Or change into dry clothes." She shook her head and headed off.
"She thinks you're both insane, you know," Leon said, pausing by their bedroom door.
"I like to think it's hereditary." Illya started to rub a shoulder. "Your children give it to you."
Napoleon knocked Illya's hand away and replaced it with his own, the movement made smooth from practice and years of familiarity.
Illya leaned back into the massage, a slight smile on his lips. "So tell me, Leon, when Lisle says five minutes, how firm is that time frame?"
"When you set a timer on an explosive, how firm is that?"
"With a similar response. I am never late to dinner." He continued to walk. "Never."
"Guess that's our cue, partner." Napoleon patted the shoulder beneath his hand. "She doesn't fall far from the tree."
"Neither of them has, in actuality." Illya tugged his turtleneck over his head and headed for his suitcase. "We're lucky men, Napoleon."
Napoleon nodded and grinned. "Yes, Illya, we are. We have great kids, wonderful grandchildren and we're still breathing and able to enjoy them. Who'd have ever thought that of us?"
Illya tugged the dry shirt in place and finger combed his hair. "Certainly not me. Never thought THRUSH would do me such a favor. Sort of makes me feel bad that we shut them down."
"It was time." He checked his watch and gestured to the door. "And it's time. Let's not keep the lady waiting, MacDuff."
"Um, we just had a change of plans," Leon announced, running into the room, looking slightly frazzled. "We're headed to the hospital. Lisle's water just broke and she's gone into labor."
"Is there something we can do?" Napoleon was suddenly all cool and calm.
"Just watch the kids, Chief! We're old hands at this." He spun and left.
"He just walked into the closet," Illya murmured. A second later, Leon re-appeared, his face red.
"Sorry, forgot I wasn't in our room." And he was off at a dead run.
"It's all right, Napoleon," Illya said, chuckling at his partner's dismayed expression. "At least the grandchildren carry some of my genes to counterbalance yours."
"Was I that bad at his age?"
"No, Napoleon, you were not bad at any age." Illya chuckled as he heard a car start. "And I'll take down anyone who says otherwise."
"And I believe you would too."
"Grandchildren, they keep you young."
"Grampy, is everything all right?" Alex's voice sounded very small and both men turned to regard the boy in the open doorway.
"Everything is fine, Alex. Mommy and Daddy have just gone to the hospital to pick up your new brother and sister..."
"Mommy's going to be mad then."
"Why's that?" Napoleon placed a hand on the boy's tousled blond hair and guided him back towards his bed.
"All that time she spent being pregnant and all she had to do was pick them up at the hospital. I don't want to be the one to tell her that she did it all wrong."
Illya struggled to keep a straight face as Napoleon shot him a deadly glare. He headed downstairs to where he was sure a perfectly acceptable dinner awaited him, content to bide his time and enjoy the fruits of their labors... well, Leon and Lisle's, but when push came to shove, it was all family.