American Pie

by Jane Terry

Originally published by Marion McChesney in the MfU slash zine Classified Affairs IV. Thanks to Connie Lee for her help transcribing the dialogue from the episode "Jingle Bells Affair." Thanks to Clare Chew for formatting.

It wasn't what Napoleon would have called a classic Thanksgiving: fighting bottleneck traffic in Manhattan during the Macy's Day Parade while trying to give the Soviet Chairman and his skeptical secretary a tour. In previous years, when he'd had the leave and there wasn't a major world crisis—care of Thrush—Napoleon would usually manage to catch a last minute flight and spend the holiday with his family. Or if he couldn't get away he often spent it with his Aunt Amy who lived in Manhattan.

But he found he wasn't minding not being able to spend the holiday with relatives. He glanced over at his partner who was maneuvering the car through traffic. Napoleon felt like he had a family member nearby, and that was what really mattered. After all, when you've spent four out of the past seven nights in bed together, that qualifies as family, doesn't it?

Napoleon had awakened this morning in his own bed—curled warmly around his friend. They had been alternating—sometimes his apartment, sometimes Illya's. But he suspected that very soon they would settle on one, or find a larger place and move in together. It should be soon. They hadn't discussed it, but it was inevitable. It felt too good sleeping together. On the nights he slept alone now, the bed was too big and cold.

It was just a matter of getting a free weekend—and borrowing a truck.

"But what is this parade?" The question from Koz cut into Napoleon's mental planning.

Napoleon turned to face the Chairman in the back seat. "It's the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Parade."

His brow wrinkled with curiosity. "But what are macies?"

This time Illya answered him. "It's a department store, sir, and a very famous one. The parade has become an annual institution."

"It marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season," Napoleon added.

Koz nodded. "The time when the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."

This caught Napoleon off-guard, but it brought on a smile. "Well, that's not exactly the intent, but you probably have a point."

"Parades, circuses...anything to exploit the masses," Radish sneered. "This is the time of year, Comrade Chairman, when the working classes toast the bone—and this bone is wrapped in such a pretty paper and tied with such a pretty ribbon—that you cannot find a worm in it. Is that not so?"

Illya was quick to answer. "Not so, Mr. Radish. If you were lucky enought to find a bone, Macy's would be pleased to offer your money back." This brought on a laugh from the Chairman. How cute. Napoleon was tickled. Not just that Illya was joking around with the Chairman, but it was such an American joke.

That was really odd. The whole time they had been showing the Chairman around there had been no mention of Illya being from the U.S.S.R. The Chairman had not commented on Illya's Russian name and had just assumed that Illya was American born. He had even referred to them both as Americans on more than one occasion, and Illya had not corrected him.

After another hour of struggling through the crowded Manhattan streets, they arrived at the hotel to find it barricaded by an anti-Koz demonstration. Then there was the firecracker of a bomb. With teamwork reminiscent of the Section II softball game this past summer, he and Illya managed to dispose of the bomb quickly.

Napoleon escorted them to their rooms while Illya remained with the double-parked car. There were two other Section II agents waiting to relieve them, and Napoleon felt reasonably sure that they would be able to handle things for the evening. The three agents checked the room for problems.

Napoleon came back down a few minutes later and found his friend slouched tiredly behind the wheel. "Mr. Waverly has dispatched technicians from Section IV to examine the bomb. He said he wants us in before nine tomorrow."

"Want me to drive?" Napoleon asked before he climbed in.

"No, I'm fine," Illya answered, sitting up. "Where to?"

Where to? It was past three—only an anal retentive fool would return to Headquarters this late in the day, especially on a holiday. "Er, what do you have in your refrigerator?"

"Not much," Illya admitted.

"Me neither. Let's find a restaurant. What do you feel like eating? Chinese?"

Illya looked at him a moment. "Certainly not!" He restarted the car.

He drove to Brooklyn, which meant they would be spending the night at Illya's place. Napoleon had been keeping a spare suit and toiletries there.

"Lindsay's?" Napoleon questioned as Illya pulled into that restaurant's parking lot. "What kind of cuisine?"

"The American kind," Illya said flatly.

Well, of course. It was Thanksgiving after all.

Napoleon saw that regardless of the American tradition of having the Thanksgiving meal at home, the restaurant was crowded. There were a lot of families mixed in with the singles. He guessed some people just didn't feel like cooking.

Food was served cafeteria style, so they waited in line to get their share of the feast. "Did you come here last Thanksgiving?" he asked his friend.

Illya took the tray and put in on the ledge. "Yes. The food is good and it's not expensive."

"You could have come with me to my Aunt Amy's." He arranged the silverware on the paper napkin. "I asked you but you said you had other plans."

"I didn't want to."

"Why not?" Napoleon followed him down the line of vegetables. They took their portions of mashed potatoes and green beans.

He stopped and faced Napoleon. "I wouldn't have felt right. I wasn't part of the family."

Wasn't? Then... "But would you have come this year...if we weren't on assignment?"

"Dark meat or white?" the woman serving asked.

"White," Illya answered.

"White," Napoleon echoed then turned back to Illya. "Would you have?"

"Probably." He put the plate on his tray and slid it down the line toward the deserts. Napoleon smiled and followed him.

Illya paused and stared wistfully at the selection of cakes and puddings and brownies, but he took the pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Napoleon took the pumpkin pie also, sans topping.

"Will you come with me for Christmas—if we're not working?" Napoleon asked.

"All right," Illya said. He took a glass of iced tea onto his tray.

Napoleon followed him into the dining area. "You will?" They found a vacant table toward the back of the room.

"I said I would," Illya said patiently and settled the napkin on his lap.

Napoleon draped his coat over one of the empty chairs then sat down opposite his friend. He thought of how different this setting was from prior Thanksgivings with his relatives. Whether with his parents, his sister and brother-in-law or his aunt, they would never begin a Thanksgiving meal without saying grace. Somehow Napoleon couldn't conceive of saying a formal prayer across from his Russian partner. But watching his partner's blond head bent over the fabricated traditional American meal, Napoleon felt a thankfulness that he had never experienced at more formal dinner tables.

He thought a silent prayer. There was truly a lot he had to be thankful for this year: the closeness that they had together which had grown into something he had never really shared with another person before—and thanks that they had made it this far without being shot down.

"Do you want to come home with me tonight?" The resonance of Illya's voice broke through the layers of conversation around them.

Napoleon swallowed the mouthful of potatoes. "I'd like that." He had just assumed...but really they couldn't take each other for granted. Not yet. "Maybe...we should turn in early tonight. We need to meet with Mr. Waverly before we take the Chairman on any more excursions."

"That's true." Illya looked thoughtful. "Though I don't think the bomb was meant to be a real threat."

"Still..." Napoleon said, "Mr. Waverly will want to discuss the incident—and the political ramifications."

Illya tapped at the edge of his plate softly. "I suppose we should go over that list of known it by Intelligence again."

"We've gone over it four times already. And Heather isn't in this afternoon anyway. She's with her sister's family in Schenectady." He took a swallow of his drink.

"Then I suppose we should turn in early," his partner conceded.

Napoleon met his friend's eyes and felt the tingle of excitement start. Unnerving that he could feel this way just from exchanging a glance with the man he worked with every day. But the mention of spending the night together was starting to free up images he had kept locked away while they had been on duty.

He let his eyes stray down from Illya's face to his much clothed chest. Napoleon thought of that chest bared of suit coat and shirt and undershirt. He would be sucking at that chest within hours. He felt a flush creep up his face.

"What are you thinking?" Illya asked.

"Nothing we should be discussing in a public place," he said ruefully, but he smiled.

"Ah..." Illya said, reading his meaning. "Then we have much business to... discuss later."

"Yes. We do." He kept the dialog brief because the viscosity was creeping into his voice and he didn't want to turn to mush right here in the restaurant.

They finished their meal efficiently with little conversation because they were both hungry, though not necessarily for turkey.

They climbed the three flights to Illya's apartment and Napoleon thought maybe that was one point of argument for moving Illya into his place. Though they were both in good shape, when you'd been wounded, or if your feet were just tired from pounding pavement, a building with an elevator was a nice luxury.

Though Illya's place was nice. The room was airy, with high ceilings, yellow painted walls, and large windows.

His living room was furnished with the Scandinavian furniture that was becoming popular now—teak with economical lines.

Napoleon found it attractive though he tended to go for more ornate pieces himself. He cast his eye over the living room with a discerning eye. They could get a big enough place for a sitting room and furnish it with Illya's living room.

While Napoleon was assessing the furniture Illya had removed his coat and tossed it on the back of a chair. He came over to Napoleon and started to unbutton his coat for him. "There was that business you wanted to discuss..." he murmured.

"Ah, yes." Napoleon turned his attention back to the most important furnishing in the room.

Penetration was still a relatively new experience for him, though his body was getting used to the idea. Napoleon watched the ceiling while they both waited for his body to adjust to the still alien feeling. "Would you rather not do it this way tonight?" Illya asked from above him.

"No, I'm fine. Just give me a couple of minutes to get into it."

It was, after all, a new position. Illya was sitting up on his knees with Napoleon's hips resting on his thighs, his legs at his waist. They had each experienced penetration these past few months, but this was the first time Napoleon had tried it from the front. It was more difficult, though the concept suited his romantic nature more than the more utilitarian rear entry position. He liked the idea of being able to look at his lover while they made love.

Napoleon had been much more aroused during their foreplay, but the tension of this new experience had dampened his arousal and this was obvious to both of them by the lag in his erection. Illya's was still as firm as ever, Napoleon noted with an exploratory squeeze.

Illya reached over to the night table and grabbed up the tube of cream. "I think you might need some remedial attention," he suggested. "You'll need a much better showing to match my performance."

"You think I'll need to match your performance?" He wiggled his bottom a bit.

Illya's throat seemed to catch and he didn't speak for a moment, but then he caught his breath and continued. "We are partners after all. You should be able to do whatever I do."

"The same night?" Napoleon asked.

"Why not?" He opened the tube and slathered some cream on Napoleon's inattentive cock. Some dribbled on his abdomen. It was cold.

Napoleon watched as Illya warmed the cream around his cock. He watched as his organ grew bigger within the large capable hands. At the same time he felt his muscles relax around Illya's bulk. Illya felt the change and smiled. "Are you ready?"


Illya rearranged them, helping Napoleon raise his legs around his waist and paralleling Napoleon. Napoleon felt the strong hand, still damp with the lubricant, support the arch of his back. Illya's face was just above his and then he was kissing him, deeper, deeper, drinking from him. Napoleon moaned into the mouth possessing him as the cock pushed into his core.

"For you, my friend, in gratitude and in the name of the People's Republic, I present to you the Sergei Brutkin Co-existence Award."

"Thank you," Napoleon said, and then the Chairman proceeded to kiss him solemnly on the cheek.

He turned to Illya. "And to you, my friend, I present the Elena Brutkin Co-existence Award. I should explain to you that Elena and Sergei Brutkin of the Worker's Elite died at the age of 105 and 103. They had been married for 87 years." And then he proceeded to buss Illya while Napoleon looked on with a grin.

Napoleon felt a measure of dubiousness about the Sergei Brutkin Co-existence Award. It was not one he had been aware of, much less coveted. Still, he appreciated the sentiment. Eighty-seven years of togetherness! It boggled the mind. He exchanged glances with the recipient of the Elena Brutkin Award. Was the Chairman trying to tell them something?

"Taking the Soviet Chairman through a crowded department store at the height of the Christmas shopping season has to be about the stupidest idea I can imagine," said Illya as they got into the elevator down the hall from Koz's room. He pushed the button for lobby and waited for the doors to close.

"It's idiocy," Napoleon agreed, "but we don't have any choice but to go along with it. If we don't, I suspect he'll just go without us."

Illya smiled ruefully. "He would."

Within the privacy of the elevator, Napoleon moved closer to Illya, a spacing that would be thought odd for male co-workers. "You know, despite his being kind of a pain, you can't help but like the guy. He's certainly enthusiastic."

Illya sighed. "This kind of enthusiasm can get me killed."

"Oh come on, admit it, he's got a very charismatic personality. That's probably how he's managed to hold his country together this long."

"Perhaps," his partner admitted reluctantly, "but I don't like his sidekick, Mr. Radish," he added darkly.

"No, he definitely doesn't have the Chairman's charm." Napoleon agreed. The elevator stopped and they exited, automatically putting that socially conventional distance back between them. Though it was late, there were still some people in the lobby.

Once in the car, Napoleon moved close on the bench seat as his partner drove. It had been a long day and they were off duty now. He was anxious for his partner to once again become his lover. He rested his hand casually on Illya's right thigh.

Illya glanced at his hand and then back at the road. "You've got me at a disadvantage. I have no choice but to keep my hands on the wheel."

"And if you had a hand free...?" Napoleon asked interestedly.

He watched Illya's profile as he partner executed a right turn and contemplated the question. "It would be traveling down your lower abdomen and hopefully encountering evidence of your interest in it proceeding farther."

The words gave Napoleon a mental image which encouraged his erection to begin to swell. "The evidence would be there," Napoleon informed him.

Illya's gaze moved instantly from the road to Napoleon's crotch and back again. A slight smile of satisfaction curved his lips. Napoleon wanted to touch those lips. He wanted to watch those lips sucking him off. Would Illya want to do that for him tonight?

Once back at Napoleon's apartment, they hung their coats in the closet. They didn't make it out of the foyer before they were in each other's arms. Napoleon pulled the other man's body against his. "You feel so good. I've been daydreaming about making love to you all day."

The blue eyes sparkled. "Even while Koz kissed you?"

Napoleon grinned back. "Especially then. I was thinking how I'd much rather it be you kissing me."

"Then I will," he said and drew Napoleon toward him. He kissed him solemnly on one cheek and then the other and then kissed him full on the mouth.

After a satisfying moment of this, they broke for air. Napoleon stood still, allowing Illya to continue caressing his face, his head.

A strange and interesting facet to this love affair was how their male assertiveness competed. Napoleon had been gearing up to take Illya in his arms and ravish him with a kiss. But look who's ravished whom? The unpredictability of it excited him even more.

"Come on." He took Illya by the hand and led him into the bedroom.

They undressed beside each other. Napoleon saw that like him, Illya was completely erect.

"So tell me..." Illya climbed into bed beside him. "In your daydreams today, how were we making love?"

Napoleon felt his face heat. How on target Illya was!

Illya looked at his face and saw the blush. "Now I've got to know what you were thinking!"

"I was fantasizing about... you ah, sucking me."

"Ah, fellatio. The American vice."

"American! I've heard it called the French vice."

"Well, at the Sorbonne, I heard it referred to as the American vice." He started to move into position. "And since of late I have been developing an interest in American culture, I would be open to exploring it further." He nudged Napoleon's legs apart so that he could place himself between them.

It was wonderful. Illya had only done this for him one time before and that time he had come so quickly from excitement that he had barely had time to pull out of Illya's mouth. He thought he might be able to hold off and enjoy it longer this time.

Illya was good at this, very good. Napoleon wondered if he had done it to other men before, perhaps when he was at the Sorbonne. Had he been referring to the "American vice" as being fellatio, or fellatio between men?

After blissful moments the sucks became stronger. Napoleon started to sit up. "Better stop or it will be over too quickly."

Illya took his mouth off so he could talk but kept his hand on Napoleon's cock. "But it's fun that way, isn't it?"

Well, yes, actually it was. Napoleon was so conditioned to holding off his pleasure till a woman was satisfied that he had to stop and remind himself that protocol could be different with a male partner. He felt Illya's finger insinuate itself between his cheeks. He was not going to be able to maintain control this time. "You're going to be on top again tonight?" he asked ruefully.

"It's up to you," Illya said with a smile. He stroked carefully against the opening.

"What the hell." Napoleon lay back and opted for the passive role once again. It just felt too good to resist his own body's wants. He could assert his masculinity and return exactly what Illya was doing tomorrow morning.

The two agents tagged the Soviet contingent through the busy department store. Napoleon reminded himself that he needed to get his own Christmas shopping done soon. He would need to post the parcels soon if scattered members of his family were going to receive them in time for Christmas. Maybe he could come back tomorrow morning and pick up a few things.

They walked through the men's clothing department. Radish looked particularly interested in the overcoats. Even the moderately priced coats were obviously of better quality than the one he was wearing. Napoleon felt a little sorry for the man; patriotism was all very well and good, but the Soviets made ugly clothing.

He glanced over at his partner who was wearing an attractive black trenchcoat Napoleon had seen him purchase in this same store earlier this year. Napoleon felt gladness that his friend didn't have to wear unattractive clothing.

They walked through the wide aisles, the foreigners taking it all in. "What is this?" the Chairman asked, stopping by a mannikin garbed in a black lace nightgown. "A garment for the beach?"

"Er, no, it's a negligee, Chairman Koz," Napoleon said with a smile. "A nightgown."

"Hmm." He stared at the mannikin for a moment and then reluctantly moved on.

It was inevitable that they would wind up in the toy department. Napoleon braced himself for Radish's diatribe and he was not disappointed. The secretary continued his mutterings about "the capitalist seduction of children" until the Chairman said something to him in their native language and he finally shut up.

This was the first time he could recall being with his partner in a toy store and he was curious as to which of the toys would catch his friend's eye. Napoleon himself had a weakness for the matchbox cars which he satisfied by purchasing them for his nephews.

He watched his friend surreptitiously from the corner of his eye. Illya appeared to be hovering close to the superhero action figures. Napoleon smiled. Maybe he would buy some of those for his nephews also. And forget to send them.

They wandered through other departments until they came to the appliances. "I imagine your country uses the 110 wattage like they do in the rest of Europe," Mr. Macy said to Koz. "Appliances adapted for that currency are available through our catalog."

"At probably double the price," growled Radish.

"Why no, Mr. Radish, I believe our prices are comparable."

"Hmph," he grunted.

And then there was the discussion about getting a gift for Mrs. Koz and Illya's mischievous observation that Mr. Koz had seemed interested in the black lace nightgown. Which he managed to give with a perfectly straight face. Napoleon added his two cents worth, that the nightgown had black lace. Also with a straight face. He had seen pictures of Mrs. Koz.

They trooped back up to the lingerie department.

"Excuse me. I would like to get this heel repaired." It was the Salvation Army girl who had been standing next to the collection kettle, beautifully picturesque in the austere uniform.

"I think the shoe repair is downstairs." Napoleon couldn't help but smile at her pretty freckled face. "Hello again. How are you?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"We don't really know each other, but I noticed you when we were coming in from outside."

Her face lit in recognition. "Oh! There's that man."

"Who?" He didn't understand.

She looked toward Maxim Radish. "The one who caused all this trouble." She indicated her shoe.

He was still confused. Why was she looking toward the Security Chief? "What?"

"My broken heel!" She took a coin out of her pocket and showed him. "He's the one who gave me twenty...twenty dangahs."

He looked at it and did a quick calculation. "Twenty dangahs. That's worth at the current rate of exchange fifty cents American." He fished a coin out of his pocket and placed it in her palm.

She looked at it. "Thank you."

"My pleasure."

"You—you said the basement."

"Yes. That's downstairs." He nodded in that direction.

She set off a few feet and then turned back to him. She handed him the foreign coin.

The girl was pleasantly attractive despite the lack of makeup and austere outfit. Napoleon still enjoyed looking at pretty girls though he had no interest in bedding them anymore. He took the coin with a murmured "Spasiba," and watched her head toward the elevators. He smiled. It was a wonderful world where you could have a lover to sleep with at night and still enjoy a landscape of pretty women during the day.

Then the Chairman came over and, quoting some of his native folklore, made the prediction that Napoleon would see the Salvation Army girl again. Napoleon smiled to humor him, but he thought that it was unlikely that he and the girl were likely to be travelling in the same circles even if he were still interested in pursuing women.

According to Guinness, Macy's was the largest department store in the world and, after two and a half hours, Napoleon felt they'd covered every inch.

"There's something more I'd like you to see," Mr. Macy said, and he led them toward a room marked "Employees Only." As they entered, he explained that this was their planning room. Macy seemed anxious to demonstrate the model train display but when Koz caught sight of the model Santa Claus, he lost interest in anything else. He seemed fascinated at the concept of 'Santa Claus schools'.

Then the three-tiered cake was wheeled in by one of the employees with a jovial "Happy Birthday, Chairman Koz."

Koz positively beamed. The employee handed him the knife.

"That was very thoughtful of our pastry department," Macy murmured. "Though I do wish they had told me."

"You didn't know about this?" Illya said. Macy shook his head.

Suddenly Napoleon realized that the employee from the bakery department looked familiar. "Don't touch that cake!" he shouted and quickly pushed the cart toward the sliding glass doors that led toward the balcony and shoved it through.

Within seconds the bomb exploded, sending a quake throughout the room.

He breathed a little easier once they had Koz back in the hotel room, but not much. Apparently this time the bomb was more than a firecracker. And it had been very close. If Illya hadn't picked up on Mr. Macy's remark about not being notified by the kitchen...

It would have been, as they say, curtains for them all.

The Chairman might have been killed when he cut the cake. Napoleon reviewed the scene in his mind. Illya had been standing closest. He had a flare of mental pain at the thought that the bomb could have killed his partner. Yes, he knew that in their line of work the risks were always going to be there, but it was uncomfortable when they got that close to his partner.

In the hallway outside of the hotel room, Illya pushed him against the wall and without preamble, kissed him. Napoleon was surprised but didn't resist. "What was that for?"

"For not getting yourself killed this afternoon," he answered. "When you pushed the cake onto the balcony."

"Oh." Napoleon hadn't even given a thought to his earlier action. Though in retrospect it had been pretty damn close. "I'll try to continue the good work... of not getting myself killed."

"You'd better," he said and led the way toward the elevator. "I really think it must be Radish," Illya continued in the elevator. "It's obvious that he hates all things American, and Koz is leaning too close to America for him."

Napoleon nodded. "I agree. But we can't tell Koz our suspicions until we have some solid evidence. There's nothing we could do to jeopardize Soviet-American relations more than to falsely accuse the Chairman's top aide."

"Then we'll just have to get some evidence on Mr. Radish," said Illya with a little more heat than Napoleon would have expected.

"You really dislike him," Napoleon observed.

"He epitomizes everything I don't like about my—the Soviet Union. The denial that there can be good in other's all so...petty to perpetuate the hostility..." he seemed surprised himself at his choice of words, " keep people apart..." His voice faltered and his eyes dropped to the floor.

Instinctively Napoleon moved closer and he put a hand on Illya's shoulder. "They can't keep us apart."

"No, they won't keep us apart," Illya agreed.

Napoleon wondered about the Santa Claus school Radish had selected. He was sure there must be more sophisticated ones. Was this wisp of a woman really qualified to turn these bowery bums into first class Santa Clauses? Still, Napoleon wasn't about to discount the possibility of miracles.

Apparently, she wasn't quite up to the task. Within a few minutes, one of the regulars challenged the Chairman to put on a Santa suit.

The situation exacerbated into a brawl with the man punching Koz in the nose.

Napoleon glanced at Illya and shrugged. They couldn't really shelter the Chairman from the consequences of his own obnoxiousness. They settled back to wait for Koz to finish his 'cultural experience' amidst the offkey rendition of 'Oh Little Town of Bethlehem'.

A blast through the fogged windows brought them to attention. Illya shoved the Chairman to the floor to shelter him. They convinced Koz to escape with the girl while they held off the gunmen.

They'd lost him. They had no recourse but to return to Headquarters where a grim Waverly was waiting to tell them the aftermath of the night's adventure.

"I don't understand how the attack on the mission could have happened," Napoleon said. "No one knew he was going to be there."

"Radish knew," Illya stated.

"I'd think you would want to pursue this further, gentlemen," Waverly suggested. "In the meantime, Chairman Koz is back at his hotel suite renoucing co-existence at the top of his lungs, calling every citizen of New York a fascist, with the singular exception of one young lady."

"And we know who that is," Illya muttered, sotto voce.

"I would suggest you call on Chairman Koz directly and apologize for what happened," their Chief ordered.

"Now?" They were both exhausted after hours of searching the rooftops, and Napoleon didn't see the point.

"Yes." Waverly was firm. "Now. In the absence of efficiency, we are compelled to resort to charm."

"I can be a lot more charming after a good night's sleep," Napoleon complained on the ride to the hotel. "I have the beginnings of a very nasty headache."

"I don't mind doing the talking," Illya volunteered.

Napoleon glanced over at his partner. "I don't know how to tell you this, Illya, but charm is not your strongest suit."

Illya glanced away from the road at him. "I'm sure I can rise to the occasion when necessary."

Napoleon shrugged. "Sure, go ahead. Not that it matters. I doubt that Emily Post would be able to charm the Chairman tonight."

Emily Post might possibly have had more success and Napoleon briefly considered asking Waverly to recruit the etiquette expert for the job since the two of them weren't having any luck with the angry Chairman. After being summarily dismissed, they exited the Chairman's room. "I think we've watched over the Chairman for the last time," Napoleon said ruefully.

"I think we should turn our attention to Mr. Radish," Illya said thoughtfully.

"So what are we going to do to get the goods on Radish?" Napoleon asked as they walked toward the car.

"An old trick," Illya answered. "Do you remember those pins we used to track Scully?"

"The Odd Man Affair," Napoleon reminisced. "They had a pretty good range."

Illya pulled a small case out of his breast pocket and opened it, revealing the pins.

"Smart Russian," Napoleon said approvingly. "I assume you have the monitor with you."

"In the car," Illya said. He seemed a little distracted. He opened his mouth as if he was going to say something and then seemed to change his mind.

"Did you bring a listening device too?"

"No, I thought it could be too easily discovered, and if it were there would be hell to pay."

Napoleon agreed. "A listening device would probably be too much of a risk. But the pins were a great idea."

The Security Chief's room was right next to the Chairman's. His partner picked the lock and Napoleon stood outside the door as Illya went inside to plant the pins. "Did you pin one on his overcoat?" Napoleon asked when he returned, thinking of the ugly garment.

"And his hat band." Napoleon nodded in approval. Illya unlocked the door of the car for Napoleon then went around to the driver's side. "So we will monitor Mr. Radish's movements." He started the car then moved into the evening's traffic.

"He could still get someone to do his dirty work with a phone call."

Illya shook his head, dismissing the idea. "He would never trust the telephone. He probably thinks the CIA has a bug on it."

"But they don't," Napoleon said. "I cased the rooms before we moved them in."

"Doesn't matter," Illya said. "He doesn't trust you. He doesn't trust me. He doesn't trust any Americans."

Just then Napoleon's stomach rumbled and reminded him that they hadn't eaten since early this afternoon. Well, the last thing he felt like doing was fixing dinner. "Let's stop by Tony's and we can watch the monitor while we eat."

"All right," Illya agreed, "but I refuse to share a pizza if you insist on anchovies."

Napoleon sighed in resignation. "Okay, no anchovies," then asked with exaggerated patience, "Are olives and onions acceptable?"

"Anything but anchovies," Illya ordained.

"He hasn't left the hotel yet," Napoleon observed, glancing at the small monitoring device which was propped up next to the napkin dispenser. "Maybe we're wrong about him and he doesn't have anything to do with the bombing." Then he met Illya's eyes over a slice of pizza. "Nah. It's gotta be him."

Illya tapped his finger idly on the Formica table. "We need to find out who's working with him."

"There's at least one other," Napoleon said. "The man who brought in the cake. It could be one of the people that traveled over with them."

"For all we know, any one of the contingent could be involved." Illya sighed. "There are at least thirty of them at the hotel."

"In which case he wouldn't even have to leave the hotel. It could be a confederate."

"Perhaps." Illya stared at the monitor.

"Aren't you going to finish your pizza?" Napoleon asked. It wasn't like his partner to leave a meal unfinished.

"Yes," Illya said and brought his attention to the pizza with the works—excluding anchovies.

Instead of going back to one or the other's apartment, they decided to stay in a room at the hotel that night. Fortunately there was one available on the ground floor.

"I guess we'll have to take turns watching the monitor tonight," Napoleon said as he pulled the counterpane down. "I'll take the first watch."

"Fortunately, more advanced technology makes that unnecessary," Illya said as he sat on the bed. He pulled his shoes off and kicked them underneath. "The monitoring device can be set to signal us if the pin moves outside of proscribed parameters."

"Terrific," Napoleon said, getting in bed beside his friend. "I'll have to send my compliments to Section IV."

"Well, actually it was my design," Illya said.

"Smart Russian," Napoleon said and pulled him into a kiss.

This certainly wasn't an evening for sex—they were both going to be sleeping in their clothes—and the last thing they needed was to be caught with their pants down if the monitoring device was set off.

But surely there could be no harm in trading tender kisses.

The unfamiliar beeping awoke them in what they soon realized was early morning, a little past 4 a.m. "Mr. Radish is certainly an early riser," Illya commented as he reached for his shoes.

"Probably still on European time." Napoleon fumbled for his own shoes.

There were other means that Radish could take to leave the building besides the front entrance. To insure that he didn't see them, they left through their window.

"So you failed again." He recognized the Security Chief's voice, muffled by the newspaper stand.

"Please. Please comrade. Give me another chance." Napoleon didn't recognize the voice. The man had an accent.

"That's why I am here. You will attach this beneath the Comrade's limousine."

"It's a bomb!" gasped the other man.

"Yes," Radish continued. "Now listen. Tomorrow at two o'clock Chairman Koz will leave his hotel to addresss the United Nations. He's supposed to arrive at two-fifteen. The bomb is set up to go off at exactly two-fifteen. Boom, boom. And Comrade Koz will be history." Radish's voice was joyful. "Ha! No use to worry about doctrinal purity."

His cohort was not as enthused. "Comrade...a thought. I am supposed to be driving the limousine."

"Yes. You will be buried as a hero of the revolution."

The man tried to muster up some enthusiasm. "Thank you, Comrade."

"Tomorrow," said Radish. "Tomorrow my own day shall come."

They had heard enough to confirm that Radish was the threat to the Chairman. And just in time too. If he had been allowed to succeed with his plan it might do more than merely thwart detente between the two nations—it could lead to a war.

Napoleon exchanged a glance with Illya who nodded. They came out behind the back of the newsstand and confronted the Chairman's traitorous security chief.

"I'm afraid not, Mr. Radish," Napoleon said.

"Better not move," came a voice from behind him.

Radish smiled at him and at Illya beside him. "I'm afraid so, Mr. Solo. Your days and the days of your friend are just concluded.

After they surrendered to the two gorillas, the two U.N.C.L.E. agents were blindfolded and bound and taken back to what was apparently Radish's base of operations. On the way Radish gloated about his scheme.

It was minimal comfort to realize that Illya's suspicions about Radish were well founded. But they had vastly underestimated the size of his operation. Apparently his scheme to undermine peace with the United States was merely a sidebar in a plan to eventually oust Koz and seize power himself.

"You realize that this might very well start World War III," Napoleon warned him darkly.

"Possibly. It is a risk I must take," Radish said with a smile, "To end an intolerable situation."

"What about all the people this could hurt?" Illya said. "Isn't there anyone you care about? Don't you have any family?"

Radish's smile vanished. "I must return to the hotel. The Chairman will expect me to join him for breakfast, and he is an early riser."

"What about breakfast for us?" Illya muttered. Napoleon always admired his partner's spunk, but sometimes he thought it could be a little mistimed, as evidenced by the slap this brought from the security chief. Napoleon winced in sympathy.

"I'm afraid you and Mr. Solo will not have time for breakfast this morning, Mr. Kuryakin. While I am dining with Chairman Koz, my...assistants will be collecting any additional information you can provide us concerning U.N. security." He looked delighted with the idea.

The gorillas seemed enthusiastic about their work but they were amateurs at interrogation and unfortunately (or fortunately) managed to knock the agents out cold before they could get any useful information.

It was several hours later that the badly bruised agents regained consciousness. Their captors had parked them in the middle of a turkey coop.

"This is humiliating," Illya complained in a low voice.

"Cold too," Napoleon agreed.

"Can you get your hands free?"

"I'm working on it." Obviously these guys weren't boy scouts, from the feel of the ropes they hadn't used any traditional knot. Napoleon continued to work at his bonds and felt that with time he would be able to work them lose. Unfortunately they had lost several hours when they were unconscious.

"What time is it?"

"It's exactly two o'clock, my friends. In fifteen minutes, we shall mourn the passing of my dearest friend, Chairman Koz," Radish said cheerfully, then wandered to the other room.

Damn, they'd lost hours! "Any luck?" Napoleon asked his partner. He wasn't having any himself. The ropes were a bit wet, making them harder to loosen. Illya shook his head in the negative. They continued their silent efforts, cognizant of the guard in the corner.

"It's now five minutes after two," Radish gloated as he came back into the room. "I can see him now, my old friend, Georgi Koz, on his way to the U.N., drinking in the roar of the crowds like the wine of youth. Ha! The Bear of the Balkans is now the Ham of the Balkans. In less than ten minutes, you couldn't even exchange him for the dry skin of a mouse. It's now six minutes after two."

"Thank you, Big Ben," muttered Solo under his breath.

"What time's lunch?" Illya piped up.

"Oh, anytime at all, Mr. Kuryakin, at your pleasure. Anytime. Anytime at all." He laughed and with that he proceeded to shower them with a few handfuls of feed. And then he went back to the other room. Napoleon couldn't believe it. Pieces of the corn had lodged in his bonds, and one of the turkeys was pecking at them—and loosening the ropes. He glanced over at Illya and judged the same must be happening with him.

Within seconds he had slipped his hands free. "You ready?" he murmured to his partner and received an affirmative nod.

"It's now ten minutes after two." Radish returned from the other room. "As I mentioned before, the time factor is final. The device itself, no matter how small, has the power to move a mountain, no less the Chairman's limo. Ha ha!"

With that, Napoleon grabbed handfuls of the feed and threw them at the guard's face.

They managed to overcome Radish and his guard in scant minutes, but Napoleon feared they wouldn't make it in time to rescue the Chairman. The guards had divested them of their communicators earlier, so there was no way they could contact other agents who would be closer to the hotel.

They had no recourse but to escape the building as quickly as possible and run in the direction of the hotel on the chance they could catch the Chairman before he left.

"What time do you think it is?" Napoleon panted. The guards had taken his watch.

"A few minutes past two," Illya answered. His internal time sense was the better of the two so Napoleon relied on it.

"I think I see the car!" Napoleon shouted to Illya.

The chauffeur darted out and into the U.N.C.L.E. agents. Seconds later the limousine exploded, showering nearby autos with remnants from the blast.

Oh no! Napoleon stared at the flaming wreckage with a sinking feeling. He's dead and we're headed for World War III!

His dismay was short-lived because the Chairman and the Salvation Army girl emerged from between two cars. "My car!" the Chairman exclaimed. "Another ten seconds... It's a good thing I don't believe in miracles, because if I did...that was a miracle."

Napoleon watched Koz tear up his prepared speech, still trying to put it all together.

It was a miracle, Napoleon reflected as they walked back to their car. But their lives were constantly accented by miracles, weren't they?

Maybe it had been a miracle that had kept him and Illya from reaching that cab in time to get themselves blown up.

Illya shook his head in amazement as they got into the car. "I think we've just avoided another world war."

"All in a day's work," Napoleon answered and started up the car.

After spending the night in a turkey coop, there was nothing Napoleon wanted to do more than to go home and shower and change. Second to that he would have welcomed six hours of uncramped sleep.

Instead they returned to Headquarters and spent the next hours filling Mr. Waverly in on the events of the past night. After grabbing a couple of sandwiches for lunch, they gave detailed descriptions of Radish's cohorts to the resident artist so she could make composite pictures. After that they re-outfitted themselves with guns, communicators and watches.

By four-thirty Napoleon felt like crawling home and collapsing. "Come home with me?" he said to Illya.

Illya agreed and they had one of the Section III people drive them home in an U.N.C.L.E.-owned cab. Neither one of them had the energy to deal with Manhattan traffic. Illya dozed off and Napoleon nudged him awake when they got to his place. "You guys need help getting up the front steps?" their driver joked.

"Heck no, we're just getting our second wind," Napoleon joked back.

It was still early and there were other residents in the hallway and elevator, though Napoleon would have liked to have been able to take his partner by the hand just so they could hold each other up.

"I've got to get out of this suit," Napoleon said immediately upon entering the apartment. "I smell like a barnyard. Did you notice how the girl in reception didn't want to get too close to us?"

"It must have been a tremendous blow to your ego," Illya teased. "But I have to agree. I want to shower and wash my hair also."

"I'll wash it for you," Napoleon offered with a grin.

"I'm glad Mr. Waverly gave us a few days off," Napoleon said. Robed and slippered, the two men had settled on the couch. Illya was using Napoleon's lap as a pillow.

"Are you that sore?" Illya looked up in concern. "That large bruise on your hip?"

"Nah, it's nothing." Napoleon stroked the damp blond hair off of Illya's forehead. "But I could use the free time to do some Christmas shopping. I need to get the packages out by Wednesday so my sister will get them in time for Christmas."

"Where are you going to shop? Macy's?"

"No, Chairman Koz said something about going back to do some shopping and I'd just as soon avoid that contingent for the next few days. Of course there is one Soviet citizen I won't be avoiding." He pulled Illya up and into a long, deep kiss.

The blue eyes were soft with passion when Napoleon resettled the fair head on his lap. Illya sighed. "I keep trying to tell you, but you keep distracting me."

"Tell me what?"

"That I'm not. Or I won't be for long."

"Won't be what?"

"A Soviet citizen." He pushed himself up to a sitting position so that he could face Napoleon on a level. "I put in my application to be an American citizen two weeks ago."

Napoleon's jaw dropped. "You did! Why didn't you tell me?"

"Well, I didn't want to just blurt it out...but every time I started to lead up to it I got interrupted by the assignment...or you distracting me."

"I'm sorry I distracted you." Napoleon grinned. "I can't believe it. You, an American! Is that going to get you into any trouble back home? Will it hurt U.N.C.L.E./Soviet relations?"

"No, I talked with Mr. Waverly about it. He knew I wanted to become a permanent resident years ago. I have no family left back home. He said that he would pull some strings and see what he could do when the political situation was right." He grinned. "Two weeks ago he called me into his office and told me the political situation was right. I filled out the paperwork that afternoon."

Napoleon was stunned and happy. He pulled his friend into a hard thorough hug and didn't want to let go. Incongruously, he felt tears sting his eyes. He spoke into the blond hair, "I guess I never let myself think about it...that you might have to go back some day. But I guess deep down I was dreading that day."

He let his friend go and Illya sat back and regarded him with fondness. "That doesn't seem to be a probability now. Mr. Waverly seems to think he can slip the paperwork through without causing a stir. He's made a case that I can be more effective fighting Thrush in this hemisphere with American citizenship. The Soviet government is very wary of Thrush—even more so than capitalism. They fear that if Thrush achieves its goal of world domination it will destroy the world order they're building."

"Well, it would," Napoleon said with a grin. "Along with the world that's safe for democracy the United States is building."

Illya groaned. "I've had enough of politics for today, if you don't mind."

And Napoleon had to agree.

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