"I do not wish to accompany you on this mission, Napoleon. I think you should find someone else for this particular assignment". The Russian was standing with a rigid posture, his eyes the icy resolve that made most people leave the room and look for something warm. Napoleon just stared at him, his mind trying to find the key to the uncharacteristic attitude, 'and insubordination' he added.
"Illya, I don't know why you're taking this stance, but it's not like you have a choice. Mr. Waverly has assigned us to this and we're going...together". There, that was the last word on it. Illya just needed to get in line and do his duty, even if it did include facing down some dogs on their trek into the Alaskan tundra.
"You know how I feel about dogs, Napoleon"... The ice was back, and no one needed to head north in order to find it. The brown eyes of the CEA of UNCLE New York met his partner's glare and tossed it back with the knowledge that he was the superior here, the senior agent who had the final say on this discussion.
"I don't know why you have this irrational fear of dogs, Illya. It just..."
"I know it's irrational, Napoleon'. The growl was ironic, considering how it came from the canine phobic man. Now, in addition to the spoken fear, his partner was breaking out in a cold sweat at the thought of what two weeks living among dogs might entail; at this his fear was palpable.
"Perhaps it originated in my youth, or some devious planted image from Thrush. I can't explain it, but it's there and it's real and I don't want to mush a pack of dogs and then have to sleep with them at night. I'd rather face a pack of Thrush without a gun in my hand". His friend had a sudden twang of guilt and sympathy. It wasn't often that this stubborn son of an iceberg let his guard down long enough to admit to fearing or dreading anything. How many times had they faced down the nasty Thrushies, sometimes without any weaponry save their own skilled hands? If Illya really did fear facing a long trek among dogs, and he did indeed have to face it, then perhaps it could work to his advantage; this might be his opportunity to overcome the fear.
"Illya, I want you to understand something, and I am not making a power play here. You need to face this and make some kind of peace with your fear, and perhaps conquer it. We are leaving tonight. I have your back, my friend. I won't let you down, nor will I let you be torn apart by the dogs. Do you trust me?"
The blue eyes warmed slightly, letting Napoleon know that there would be no further complaints for the moment. The one thing they had for continually overcoming their fears was the absolute trust they shared in each other. Illya would depend on that now, and for the coming mission. He wiped his brow and took a long look at his partner, thinking that just maybe the two of them could beat this phobia that had tormented him.
Dogs didn't look so bad right now, as long as he had his best friend.
Two Weeks Later...
Illya Kuryakin was whistling as he entered UNCLE Headquarters, his good mood a sure sign of a successful mission and, well just a good mood. He had taken Napoleon's advice, digging into the assignment with all of his characteristic resolve; to his delight he had formed a bond with the dogs they had been partnered with during their time in Alaska, and now felt an invigorating sense of freedom from his former phobia.
As Napoleon Solo entered headquarters, there was an acute absence of whistling. There was, in fact, a rather sour expression on his face as he hobbled through reception and the long corridor leading to his office, where he found his partner.
"Oh, there you are. I was beginning to think you might not make it in today. Nasty business, that dog bite you received."
Napoleon made a face (you know the one), sneering at his friend as only he could while still maintaining his cover as a handsome spy.
"Really? You thought that little bite would keep me from coming to work? Illya, that's... ouch!"
Napoleon kept forgetting to put down the cushion given to him by Dr. Wells. Illya was snickering at the sight of his superior, a distinction of rank that Napoleon had made a point of enforcing before they had left on this last affair.
"I'm sorry, Napoleon. But you must admit the irony of what happened in Alaska. Here I was full of anxiety over living with those dogs, and it turns out they actually liked me. It is a tad unfortunate that Brutus was so... what shall we say about that? I believe you were actually hated by that dog."
Napoleon was easing himself into his chair. This recovery was going to be long and uncomfortable, no doubt about it.
"Yeah, well... If I didn't know better, and I'm still not sure I do, there might be some suspicion about what you used to whisper into his ear every night in the guise of becoming friends."
Napoleon said that last word as though it had something unpleasant attached to it.
"I honestly do not know what you're talking about, Napoleon. I merely spoke to Brutus in Russian, and he seemed to like the sound of it. Perhaps it was your Quebecoise French that put him off. I do believe that was when he... "
Illya finally broke into a raucous fit of laughter, pushing Napoleon even farther into his foul mood.
"I'm sorry, I am truly sorry. It is an unforgettable image now, you crooning away in French and the suddenness of the..."
Napoleon jumped in to clarify what had transpired.
"He attacked me, Illya. He lunged at me from behind and..."
"Bit you in the arse, I believe we might say."
Napoleon relented at that as a small smile played at the corners of his mouth. It was funny in a perverse sort of way. If it had been a scene in a movie he would have laughed his head off.
"Okay, I give. You got over your dog phobia and I got bit in the... arse."
Illya had a sudden surge of pity for his friend, and in a show of compassion he offered to pay for lunch. As they headed out towards the canteen he began humming a song he had heard recently. His humming gave way to the portion of lyric that came to him, almost like inspiration...
When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
Napoleon stopped in his tracks at that, and then in complete surrender to the circumstance and his friend's good humor, he joined in.
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad
Not even a dog named Brutus could cloud the pleasures of friendship. That was definitely one of Napoleon's favorite things.