The Whiffenpoof Affair
"We're poor little lambs who have lost our way
Baa Baa Baa
We're little black sheep who have gone astray
Baa Baa Baa-aa-aa!
Gentlemen, songsters, off on a spree
Doomed from here to eternity
Lord have mercy on such as we
Baa Baa Baa!"
The a cappella group came to an anticlimactic close and the gathered Elis and Eli supporters broke into a scattering of applause. Toward the back of the assemblage Napoleon Solo, a "Class of 1952" badge affixed jauntily to his lapel, added his support to the conservative clamor, then turned to him companion who had not, as yet, raised a hand to show his own approval, but was rather regarding the singers with a mixture of confusion and disgust. "What's wrong?"
Illya turned to his partner, distaste still apparent in his expression. "What was that?"
"That," Napoleon answered with sardonic pride, "was a time-honored tradition here at Yale: our Glee Club, the Whiffenpoofs, singing their hallmark song, entitled, appropriately enough 'The Whiffenpoof Song.' It's one of Yale's crowning features."
"One of Yale's crowning features contains the words 'Baa Baa Baa'?" Illya asked, his practiced smug expression taking the place of the more exceptional puzzlement.
Napoleon shrugged. "Yes, I suppose it does. Is that a problem?"
"No one in this crowd strikes me as resembling a little lost lamb," Illya observed, quirking an eyebrow. "Nothing very poor about them, either."
Napoleon smiled patiently. "I think it's meant to be taken purely metaphorically. Not that I ever gave it much thought. Surely your scientific and methodical mind can comprehend metaphor?"
"Probably better than you can." Illya scowled. "What kind of education can one get here in New Haven?" he asked contemptuously as he glanced around the ugly, unidyllic suburban setting.
"The very best money can buy," Napoleon said with a straight face. "I'm sure you don't consider it an education if you aren't simultaneously being taught survival by the KGB and values from the Soviet navy in conjunction with academics?"
"Or some facsimile of the same."
"The very best education, money discouraged."
"Much more profitable in the long run."
"Oh, really? Who makes more money, in the long run?"
"There are more important things than money."
"Shhh!" Napoleon glanced around and gave his partner a scandalized look. "That's not the Yale attitude! You go around saying things like that and people are going to think you're a communist or something."
"Well, I am..."
"I know that and you know that, but everyone doesn't have to know that."
Illya gave him an affronted look. "Does Yale require I renounce my ideological standards?"
"I'm sure they would be glad to hear they had aided in your enlightenment. But keep your standards. Just don't go parading them around. Pretend it's an undercover assignment. You are here, assuming the role of my charming and jocular partner, willing to accompany me on an oh-so-noisome mission."
"Charming and jocular?"
"How about reluctant and accommodating?"
Illya sighed. "I don't know why Waverly said you had to go. Or why I agreed to come with you."
"He didn't say I had to go. He said, I believe, 'It would be propitious toward attaining the goals of this organization if you would attend the reunion in New Haven this weekend." A contemplative look came over his face for a moment. "All right, so he did say I had to go. And you agreed to come because even Manhattan holds no appeals for you when I am out of the vicinity."
Illya shot him a look of wide-eyed disbelief.
"But let us not ponder the whys and wherefores of existence," Napoleon continued. "How about you relax and try to have a good time?"
"Easy for you to say. I'm that's exactly the approach to life they taught you here."
Napoleon suppressed a smile. "Come, my little lamb. Let's see if I can find that dorm room I had senior year. It's bigger than your whole apartment. And there's supposed to be a wine and cheese reception around here somewhere.
Illya trudged after him. "I don't think wine and cheese will be enough to sustain me."
Napoleon ignored him, intent on remapping the way back to the dormitory, when he was soon sidetracked by a large crowd gathered near a landmark he did not recall from his bygone schooldays. Curious, he modified his vector slightly to see what was causing such a spectacle. Illya followed, glancing around the crowd with obvious disgust and frightening those who chanced to catch his eye.
Napoleon halted in front of a large bronze statue of a young man in old-fashioned dress, his expression proud and undaunted. Illya stopped at his partner's side. "This cannot possibly be your dormitory," he said, regarding the statue without much interest.
"Brilliant observation." He glanced down and read the plaque on the statue's pedestal, then began laughing, to Illya's obvious bewilderment and trepidation. "Well, how about that. About time. Nathan Hale. Not a bit like I would have imagined him." He smiled at Illya, who was glancing around to see if anyone else was having the same hysterical reaction to the monument.
"Circus clown?" he suggested, eyebrows raised.
"Good guess," Napoleon said, giving the statue the once-over. The youth stood tall, chest out and shoulders back, long hair tied back neatly in a ponytail and face unlined and unafraid. "He was a Yale alumnus."
"Same difference." Illya waved a dismissive hand. "Why don't you have a statue?"
"It takes time. Hale graduated some time before the turn of the nineteenth century. 1773, I think."
Illya elbowed his way past his partner to see if this information was given on the plaque. He gave his partner a sidelong glance. "You know the year he graduated?"
"A course they offer here, perhaps: memorize irrelevant facts about Yale alumni instead of actually learning practical information?"
Napoleon raised his eyebrows. "You've never heard of him?"
Now Illya scowled, suspecting, perhaps not entirely without cause, that Napoleon intended a slur against his intelligence. "Why should I have?"
"Nathan Hale was a patriot. He was killed during the Revolutionary War. You probably think since he's not on a coin or a bill, he's not important."
"I believe you're confusing me with your Yale classmates," Illya said, gesturing at the crowd. "Is that all he accomplished? Aside from graduating from Yale, I mean. I can tell you, we do not have monuments to every poor soul who died during our Revolution, even if they did have a college education."
"Well, he was executed. Holding his Yale diploma and with a great exit line." He bit back a smile. "You've really never heard of him?"
"No," Illya snapped. "But I'm sure you'd be absolutely thrilled to tell me why I should have."
"With pleasure," Napoleon said indulgently. "Nathan Hale was executed by the British for espionage. He is considered America's first spy."
"Ah, I see," Illya nodded. "A proud tradition in the making. I'm sure you too would like to die with a quotable quip on your lips and your Yale diploma clutched in your trembling fist." He paused. "Although execution by the British at this point would be rather pathetic."
"I think you would have enjoyed it back then, IK. Look how long they let their spies wear their hair."
"Such a freer time."
Napoleon smiled, but the conversation was cut short as he spotted a most unwelcome face in the crowd, wearing an identical badge and a characteristic frown. Napoleon groaned and tried to advert his gaze, but it soon became obvious that he had been spotted, for the other man raised his eyebrows and began making his way through the crowd. "Napoleon," he said when he had successfully maneuvered his way over, sticking out his hand and trying to restrain the glare that kept threatening to conquer his face.
Napoleon followed suit. "Frederick," he acknowledged as they shook quickly before lowering their hands to their sides. "I was under the impression you weren't going to be able to make it. Can the Agency really spare you?"
"I just got back from an assignment," Frederick Stevens responded, his right hand curling into a fist. "Berlin, you know. I must say, I'm surprised to see you here. Must be a slow week if UNCLE can afford to lose its best agents for any length of time." He managed to load just enough skepticism into his "best." "How are you, Mr. Kuryakin?"
"Peachy," Illya said, not bothering to glance Stevens' way. He had become totally absorbed in reading a flier he had been handed by a conscientious student about the statue. He did, however, spare the energy to elbow Napoleon rather severely.
It was natural for there to exist a rivalry between UNCLE agents and their Langley cousins, but the contention had never been as friendly as sometimes was desirable since, on occasion, the two agencies were required to pool their resources. One such case had paired Napoleon and Illya with Napoleon's estranged college buddy Frederick Stevens, a rising hotshot in the CIA who held the typical Agency enmity for all things Soviet. The mission, which had taken place within Soviet borders, had been successful thanks entirely to UNCLE's efforts (and a few called-in favors), and Stevens had been sent to Berlin in shame, as it was suspected he might have had something to do with informing the KGB of Illya's arrival back home; this inconvenience had almost lost them the mission. Napoleon had been under the impression that the banishment was permanent, but apparently the "indefinite" transfer had become definable. Napoleon and Stevens' friendship, needless to say, had not survived the encounter.
"How was Berlin?" Napoleon asked politely, shoving Illya back.
Stevens shook his head. "The usual. Making sure the Reds toe the line." He nearly yelled the last in Illya's face, but the Hale trivia had the monopoly on Illya's attention, at least while the only competition remained Frederick Stevens. "Just coincidence that the reunion corresponded with my return. So nice to see the old place again, mingle with the other Elis, hear the Whiffenpoofs sing." He glared at Illya, who had coughed at a rather suggestive time.
"What do you think of the statue?" Napoleon asked, trying to make conversation before Stevens and Illya went for their weapons.
Stevens afforded it half a glance. "Always nice to have a new ornament on campus. Adds to the idyllic setting, you understand, emphasizes the atmosphere. Lets you know why this school is one of the best in the country and has been for so many years."
"Oh, it's ornaments that determine prestige," Illya muttered from behind his flier. "Explains the CIA's record, doesn't it?" Napoleon couldn't hold back a chuckled and Stevens' eyes flashed.
"Why, exactly, are you here, Kuryakin? I cannot imagine your name was on the guest list."
"I'm a major donor," Illya replied.
"Have you seen anyone from the old group?" Napoleon asked desperately.
Stevens was still glowering at a disinterested Illya, but he pulled his gaze away and took out his frustration straightening his perfectly straight tie. "Actually, yes. I ran into the whole mess of them at the reception this morning. We're meeting later in the evening for the banquet. You're welcome to join us, of course," he added, something about his emphasis making it clear he meant "you" to be taken singularly.
"I'm sorry, I've already made plans for the evening." Napoleon tried to sound apologetic.
"Oh, that's too bad." Stevens tried to sound disappointed.
"Well, yes, thank you, Frederick. I will keep that in mind." Napoleon held out his hand again. "It was, ah, enjoyable to see you again."
"You too, Napoleon." He turned to go, then hesitated and turned back. "It's so apt for them to recognize an American patriot who so bravely gave his life so those deserving can enjoy the wonderful freedom this country has to offer," he observed. "But then, so many great Americans went to Yale."
"Good thing they don't all have statues. You wouldn't be able to walk without smashing into some selfless American Whiffenpoof," Illya whispered.
"Ah, indeed. I'll talk to you later, Frederick." He didn't feel he could take anymore of his old friend's company, and the brush-off seemed the best, if not the most polite, way to convey that.
"I bet he would die with his Yale diploma in his hand," Illya observed as Stevens disappeared back into the crowd.
Napoleon turned to his partner. "Who taught you to behave in polite society?"
"Obviously not Yale. Of course, if Stevens is considered 'polite society'..."
"I never thought I'd see him back here after what happened," Napoleon said. "I wonder what's going on."
Illya shrugged. "Maybe he's rediscovering his Yale roots? He wasn't happy to see you, I noticed that much."
"I think he just wasn't happy to see you."
"But we have the most enriching exchanges. No, Stevens was watching you for some time before he bothered to come over feign friendly. And the looks he was shooting your way could have turned you to stone right here next to Hale. Two Yale spies for the price of one."
Napoleon smiled, but Illya's observation had unnerved him somewhat. "Come on, let's go find my dorm room. I'll show you how I used to sneak in the girls from town."
Illya rolled his eyes. "What makes you think I'd be even remotely interested in that?"
Napoleon arched an eyebrow. "Maybe I can show you what we would do up there, too," he suggested. "I can feel the nostalgia creeping up on me."
"About time, too," Illya said, somewhat mollified. They had begun walking when he piped up again, hesitantly. "Napoleon, maybe you should go to the banquet."
"Don't you want the pleasure of my company?"
"Always. But though Stevens is something of a moron, he did have a point. Waverly would not have insisted on our attendance here if there were not some reason for it--even he would not be so cruel. And you noticed it was odd Stevens was here."
"What do you think is going on, Illya?"
"I don't know. It wouldn't be terribly American of the CIA to be carrying out espionage at the dear old alma mater, would it?
"Certainly not. Those are not the sort of manners one normally encounters in Yale society."
"All the same, I think you should stick with Stevens."
"I'll scout the perimeter, see what I can see."
Napoleon groaned. "It hardly seems fair. I get Frederick Stevens, you get..."
"The beauty of scenic New Haven? As senior agent, it is, of course your prerogative to veto any plan suggested by a lowly subordinate. A word of caution however: I think someone should stick with Stevens and I doubt he will be very receptive to my presence at the banquet. And if that is the case, I will not be very friendly when we return to the hotel tonight."
Napoleon gave him a sidelong glance. "Then I take it the usual on-mission rules about—" he cleared his throat "—things are not in effect?"
"I think we can scrap those on this occasion. After all, there's nothing official about this."
Napoleon thought about it. "Fine. I'll go to the banquet and keep an eye on Stevens; you look around outside--you're hardly Whiffenpoof material." He glanced around and ran a discreet hand through Illya's hair
Illya ducked the gesture. "You say it like it's something I'd want to be."
Several hours later, suitably decked in evening black-tie, which he had fortuitously included as part of his packing regiment, Napoleon entered the ballroom. He had certainly not overdressed, but he had done well for himself, he noted, as a significant number of wives-at-husbands'-arm turned in his direction as he came into view. He ran a hand through his hair and checked his tie was straight; Illya had been no help there, allowing only a bored "fine" while he pulled on a black turtleneck and dark jeans. He had, however, been rather affectionate when they said good-bye, hinting that perhaps "fine" was an understatement.
Satisfied with his appearance, he surveyed the room, keeping an eye out for familiar faces. He recognized few of his old classmates; the addition of a paunch or the reduction of a hairline worked wonders toward concealing identity; he'd have to mention that to Section 3, though not when he might be required to perform any undercover work in the near future.
He made his way to the bar, exchanging a rare "hello" and returning the appraising stares with flirtatious smiles. He ordered and received a scotch on the rocks, then glanced around for his old crowd. He had assumed he would find them close to the bar, and he wasn't far off; though they were gathered slightly more to the left than they might have been in the old days, the strategic proximity was evident. It was a bit embarrassing that Tom Kirkwood had to shout a "'Lo, Napoleon!" before he recognized a one of them.
He made his way over and was immediately pummeled by slaps on the back (of a conservative nature) and firm handshakes. He tried to quickly sort out these men who had once been his closest friends. Tom Kirkland was easy: at 6'5", he stood above the majority of the other guests, and his loud laugh and exaggerated gestures brought him even more attention, not always of the friendly variety. Matthew Duncan was the one with the voluptuous brunette who kept trying to catch his eye, though what was left of his dark hair had gone prematurely gray. Jeff Rowland still had freckles covering a too-pale complexion, but he did seem to have grown into his nose, at least. Danny Welling's glasses had only gotten thicker, and his jacket was so loud Napoleon wondered he had not seen him from across the room. The hippie guy had to be Sam Winston--God knows how he had managed to get in here with hair as long as that (shame Illya wasn't here to see it). And there, at the far back, obviously sulking though he was trying to cover it up, was Frederick Stevens, sipping a martini Napoleon had no doubt was shaken not stirred. He did offer a strong handshake and a "Glad you could make it, Napoleon" with a significant look around to make sure he had come alone. Despite Illya's absence, he looked as though Christmas had been skipped in favor of an impromptu Boxing Day.
Tom, Matthew and Danny--who preferred Daniel now--were currently married, and he kissed each other their wives' hands in turn; he couldn't blame them for the lustful looks they sent this way, seeing how his classmates had turned out. Tom had to drag his wife away, though he tried to laugh it off. "So, Napoleon, you ever tie the knot?" he asked.
All the women within earshot held their breaths in anticipation.
"Ah, no, I don't have that...pleasure," he answered, ignoring Stevens' loud "ahem!" He recalled now a few obscenely suggestive comments his old friend had made about him and Illya on their mission together, confirming past observations that the CIA had nothing better to do than gossip about the sex lives of agents from other organizations (perhaps they had none of their own to speak of). He glanced over at Danny's wife, who had begun breathing again. She ran her tongue over her glossy lips and looked up at him through hooded eyes.
"And what sort of work are you in?" Tom asked, adding that he was with a prestigious law firm in Nashville. His wife rolled her eyes and headed back to the bar.
"I'm, um, in international business."
"Really!" Tom exclaimed. "So's Fred! Are you competitors?"
"Not exactly." Napoleon and Stevens enjoyed a moment of shared apathy.
"We've come into contact occasionally," Stevens said slowly. "Usually on complementary, ah, projects. Although we don't see eye-to-eye on all issues," he added.
"Of course, individual initiatives don't always reflect company policy," Napoleon snapped back.
"Sometimes the company doesn't know what's best for it," Stevens said with a scowl.
The others watched the exchange silently, well aware they had missed something. Napoleon and Stevens stared each other down; Stevens broke the contact first and went back to sipping his martini. Napoleon began an easy conversation with Sam Winston, whose record company in California was doing unprecedented sales.
Tom cleared his throat a few minutes later. "It looks like they're beginning to move into the dining room," he said, craning his giraffe-like neck. "Shall we?" He offered his wife an arm and motioned for the others to follow.
Feeling not at all like a herd of sheep, the others followed the couple toward the ornately laid tables.
Stevens fell into step with Napoleon as they made their way over. "So, where'd you ditch Kuryakin for the evening? Leave him lying in the hotel room thinking pretty thoughts until you get back?"
Napoleon wrinkled his brow. "What, are you disappointed not to see him here? I'll tell him you inquired." Stevens let out a single, gruff laugh. "Actually, he was called back to New York. Apparently, the week was not as slow as it originally seemed." If the CIA was up to something, he wasn't going to let on that Illya was ready for them.
Stevens looked incredulous for a moment, then shrugged his shoulders. "Well, better there than here," he muttered, and went to take a seat as far from Napoleon as was conceivable when their friends were clearly expecting to share a confined space.
Yale food had never been anything terribly praiseworthy while that had lived there as undergraduates, but the alumni committee had certainly put on a fine display tonight. The lamb-chops and mint sauce were of restaurant quality, and the champagne was suitably ostentatious. The conversation was dull, but at least he was seated far away from Stevens. He engaged in a fairly pleasant if not terribly intellectually stimulating conversation with Mrs. Natalie Duncan, a Vassar girl who had apparently learned little there besides a violent dislike for Poughkeepsie, and New York in general, excepting, of course, the City, where all the Vassar doctors' wives could meet for tea and gossip.
He did notice Stevens step out once during dinner, but as he returned within five minutes, Napoleon decided losing him for that time was not cause for alarm. He caught Stevens' eye as he resumed his seat and took the open scowl to mean they were done playing friendly. Which was fine with him.
Having always lived in cities, Illya had very little use for any venue that did not boast tall buildings, crowded streets, and noisy conditions. And though he was not someone who necessarily noticed or appreciated the poetic beauty of the pastoral, he was enough aware of the basic concept to judge that New Haven, a town too urban to be country and too rustic to be city, was the height of unattractiveness. Where there was not a storefront, there was probably a dirt pile; trees were scarce and often dead-looking, and as the sky darkened it turned an evil gray-purple color. From a casual observation on his walk to campus (Napoleon had thoughtfully taken the car, leaving him without transportation), he judged the economic vitality of the town relied largely on entertainment of the adult variety. As he neared campus, a benevolent-looking older gentleman, correctly labeling him as an out-of-towner, had warned him not to be on the streets too long after dark. Even the bars looked sad and uninhabitable, although, after a few drinks, he supposed, it would be possible to forget one was in New Haven.
Campus almost proved a refuge after the stroll through town; at least the Gothic architecture didn't resemble a storefront. He scowled up at the nearest building and began his rounds, becoming steadily more amused as it became clear that, despite the administration's best efforts to conceal the fact, the culture and politics of the time had not passed by the young students at Yale. He observed in the darkness several patches of discolored grass strategically covered with welcoming signs. A closer examination revealed the source of the stains to be red paint; it looked as though most of the statues and a few of the trees have been splattered at some point not too far past. He discovered two Vietcong flags in places the alumni committee had failed to check; having nothing against them himself, he left them in place, and became even more amazed by the remains of a hateful LBJ graffiti slogan on the wall of one of the dorms.
He had wandered the grounds for several hours (a glance at his watch told him it was after 10:00) and discovered nothing out of the ordinary (or at least nothing that would suggest the CIA's involvement--he did not suspect they were responsible for the reactionary messages and paraphernalia he had discovered). He had begun to regret that he had suggested he and Napoleon spend the night apart; surely, in his four years here, his partner had discovered something to do in New Haven. Sighing, he made his way over to the Hale statue and debated whether to swallow his pride, admit his mistake, and tell Napoleon to leave the banquet and spend the rest of the night with him. Maybe he should simply crash the party; it might be worth it just to see the look on Stevens' face. Both options were tempting. There certainly wasn't much going on around here. He leaned against the statue, took out his communicator, and began twirling it between his fingers.
A sound at the ivy on the building behind him almost made him reach for his gun; he hesitated and reminded himself that this was New Haven, and it was much more likely to be a drunken alumnus than a master criminal. He relaxed, but was back on his guard when he heard what was undeniably a gun being cocked. He reached for his shoulder holster when a nearby voice stopped him: "Don't even think about it. I have you covered."
He paused just inches from his own gun and then winced as a flashlight shown right in his eyes. He put a hand in front of his face and gazed out through slit eyes, but he wasn't in any position to identify the new arrival. There was a pause, then a familiar but unidentifiable voice said, "Kuryakin?"
"Yes," he confirmed. "May I ask who you are?"
Another pause, then the voice grudgingly admitted, "Dave Spencer."
Illya was surprised but not as unhappy as he could have been. Spencer was CIA, certainly, but unlike most of his fellows, he had an honest respect for cultures not American. He was an expert in Russian languages and practices, and had been, if not welcoming then at least impartial in his treatment of Illya the one time they had worked together. He had been instrumental in helping Illya evade the KGB and had seemed genuinely upset that Stevens, his partner at the time, had done something as callous and stupid as informing on an ally. They had parted on friendly terms, but had quickly been absorbed back into their own spheres and never communicated again.
"Spencer," Illya acknowledged. He could see a dark shape, but that was all. "Would you mind pointing your flashlight somewhere else?"
The beam left his face and aimed at his chest. "Take your hands away from your gun," Spencer commanded, "and keep them where I can see them."
Illya complied. "Are you working security detail?"
"Hardly," Spencer said, a touch of humor in his voice. "What the hell are you doing here, anyway, Kuryakin?"
"Waiting for my partner."
His eyes were beginning to adjust once again to the blessed and painless darkness, and he could just make out Spencer's nod. "Well, you can wait somewhere else. You've stepped into an operation we've got running. I suggest you make yourself scarce."
"Really. What kind of operation could the CIA be running in New Haven?" Illya asked.
"It's nothing. Really. Now get the hell out of here before I have to remove you; there are people in my office who would love the chance to run you in on an espionage charge."
"I am not the one currently engaged in illegal espionage."
"Look, Kuryakin," Spencer's voice had picked up a note of desperation, "just get out of here. This has absolutely nothing to do with you, and you don't want to interfere. Trust me, it's more trouble than it's worth. Just go back to the hotel or the party or wherever you came from. It won't make any difference in the long run."
Illya pretended to think it over. Instead, he studied Spencer's darkened form. He thought he had a pretty good chance of getting the gun away from him; enforcement wasn't Spencer's strongpoint, and he wouldn't be expecting anything as foolhardy as that. "Thanks for the suggestion, but I think I'll stay here. I've grown rather fond of this spot." He exchanged a look with the Hale statue.
Spencer advanced three steps toward him. "I'm serious. I don't want to, but I will have you taken in if you don't take a hike in about five seconds." The distance shortened, Illya took his opportunity and went for the weapon. Spencer saw the movement out of his peripheral vision, but had no idea what was happening until he was hit in the side by Illya's tackle. The scuffle took very little time, and Illya was obvious victor. He climbed slowly to his feet and pointed the gun at Spencer's prone form. "All right," he said, reaching for his dropped communicator while keeping the weapon trained on his target, "now tell me, what is going on here?"
"I don't see how it's any of your damned business, you fucking Ruskie." The voice in his ear was definitely not friendly; nor was the cold metal barrel pressed to his neck. He glanced around and saw more shapes emerging from the nearby buildings and foliage. Sighing, he dropped Spencer's weapon and put up his hands.
"I don't suppose it's occurred to any of you that a mission on United States soil is against CIA policy," he stated rhetorically.
Spencer got to his feet. "Look, Hillard, this isn't a big deal. Let's just take him back to his hotel and sit on him until this is done. He doesn't know anything, it doesn't matter..."
Hillard responded by pistol-whipping Illya across the face. Illya cried out and saw stars, but managed to stay upright. "Take his communicator," Hillard said--he was clearly someone with authority, for one of the other agents complied immediately. "We're going to need a couple of guys to watch him with this does down. Put him in one of the vans. We'll deal with him later." Two of the men grabbed Illya's arms. He glanced at Spencer and saw some sympathy on his face; at least he wasn't one for "I told you so."
Well, he was vindicated, small comfort though it was. He couldn't believe the CIA would risk disappearing him, especially since they had to assume Napoleon would know they were involved, as he had identified Stevens earlier. And if he ever saw his partner again, he'd have the satisfaction of having anticipated the nefarious CIA scheme taking place before his eyes.
Somehow, it didn't quite make his bleeding temple worth it.
Napoleon didn't know if he could stand much more of this.
Dinner completed and the plates cleared away, the Dean of Studies, a Bernard Trevor, had taken the podium and begun what he identified as "Nostalgia Time." He began by telling stories, accompanied by a slide show, of the things they were supposed to remember from their undergraduate days. Though the crowd laughed and muttered appreciatively at the anecdotes, Napoleon couldn't help feeling it was pretty forced. He himself did not remember a single one of these apparently significant events, and he could tell from the expressions on his companions' faces that they could not recall any of them either.
The slide show came to a close after a mercifully short span. He glanced at his watch; just past eleven. He sighed and hoped they would call it a night soon; he was eager to return to the hotel, and Illya. He had watched Stevens throughout the dinner and noted nothing unusual in his behavior. He had gotten up to leave again during the slide show and returned a few minutes later, this time with a smug expression on his face. Napoleon rather thought it was directed toward him, but Stevens might have merely been happy to have missed a few minutes of the abysmal nostalgia display.
Trevor, however, was far from finished. Having completed his presentation on what life had been like for them, he now moved on to what had changed at Yale in the fifteen years they had been away (Napoleon felt the crowd, having been educated at Yale, should have been able to figure out what was different for themselves; but who was he to argue with the Dean of Studies?). He began playing with his communicator, hoping it would ring and be Illya, swallowing his pride and ready to go back to the hotel for the best kind of entertainment New Haven had to offer. He was halfway through an erotic daydream involving pillowcases, coffee creamer and an absurd number of candles when the mention of the Hale statue jarred him out of it. Illya had been somewhat upset that his own knowledge had come up short in this instance; he had spent the whole time Napoleon was getting ready for the evening lounging on the bed, reading everything their hotel room provided on the subject---which actually amounted to quite a lot. Wouldn't he be upset if Napoleon came back spouting even more information on the infamous monument?
"You all probably noticed this addition to campus," Trevor began as he flipped to the Hale statue (there were, of course, slides accompanying this presentation as well). "You might have thought he was a new student on campus, but you would have been mistaken. He is actually a very old student. In just a few years he would be celebrating his 200th reunion if he had not been executed by the British shortly after his graduation (Napoleon doubted Hale would have proven able to celebrate his 200th reunion even if he had not been hanged by the British at twenty-two). "This is Nathan Hale, Yale Class of 1773. A true patriot, he died uttering the words 'I regret I have but one life to give for my country' in his mouth and his Yale diploma in hand. Executed by the British for espionage, he would be the first of many selfless Yale men who would give everything to keep their country safe despite the efforts of evil external forces. Yes, Nathan Hale was a true American, and a model of the Yale spirit, and that is why we have commissioned this fine and unique statue to salute his proud sacrifice and to honor the educational institution which produced a fine man like him." Trevor paused, and for the first time his gray features molded to an expression of merriment. "You should know that our own Central Intelligence Agency requested that the statue be moved to their headquarters. But we felt it would best honor Hale's memory if it stayed here in New Haven, where Hale spent four of the most important years of his short life. Now then..."
The lecture continued, but Napoleon no longer felt there was any reason to listen. A strong suspicion was creeping into his mind. He tried to catch Stevens' eye, but he was staring determinedly ahead. He almost laughed. Surely the CIA hadn't sent him here over a statue?
But the CIA wasn't one to let an academic institution, even one as renowned as Yale, stand in the way of its ego. If they wanted a statue, then they were going to get a statue, and damn those who might oppose them.
Napoleon got to his feet, ignoring the puzzled looks from his friends (and the dark glare from Stevens), and headed toward the exit, hoping for a quiet place where he could contact his partner and tell him to keep an eye on Nathan Hale.
"Open Channel D, emergency relay to Mr. Kuryakin."
He paused, but got no response after several seconds. "I repeat, emergency relay to Kuryakin."
Again, nothing. He waited a few more seconds, then asked to be transferred to headquarters.
A pause, then a familiar voice exclaimed, "Hello, Napoleon."
He sighed; he really didn't need his entourage breathing at him over the communicator right now. "Ah, hi, Hillary. Listen, can you connect me to Illya?"
She let out a frustrated little mew, but became efficient on his cue. "We've been trying to do that, Mr. Solo, but Mr. Kuryakin doesn't appear to be answering his communicator."
"Has he activated any of his emergency tracking devices?"
"No. Not that we've observed." She paused, and her tone became petulant. "Aren't you boys at some kind of college reunion this weekend?"
He let out an agitated breath. "Some kind," he confirmed. "All right, just keep trying him. Contact me the second anything changes. I'll be in touch. Solo out." He capped the pen.
Illya was in trouble, he could feel it. He should have noticed it before now. Damn Yale and its soporific nostalgia.
But all was not lost. There was one person here who could tell him where his partner was.
Napoleon stormed back into the dining hall, determined to get some answers out of Frederick Stevens.
Illya listened to his communicator beep. He knew the sound was supposed to be annoying; the logic was that agents would answer faster if the noise proved obnoxious enough. At this point, he would have given nearly anything to answer, but he found this quite impossible, thanks to the handcuffs bolting his wrists to the chair and the three spooks set to guard him in back of one of the vans.
They, at least, were just as irritated by the noise as he was. He thought perhaps they would let him answer it--but no, that wasn't their style. After about five minutes of relentless beeping, one of them picked it up off the table, dropped it on the ground, and smashed it under his boot. They quickly agreed that it had fallen, and he had stepped on it without noticing. Illya cringed at having to file the expense report, but judged optimistically that if Napoleon tore his tuxedo while trying to rescue him, the replacement of a communicator would go unnoticed.
And if Napoleon was trying to contact him, that meant he had figured out that something was amiss and was on his way to perform one of his usual dramatic and timely rescues. Illya could hardly wait. Not that he hadn't been in worse situations, but the handcuffs were uncomfortable, and he now had an enormous headache from Hillard's assault, which had only been exacerbated by the communicator's insistent beeping. He wanted to go home and get some sleep--with Napoleon by his side, if at all possible. At the moment, he would die happy if he never left Manhattan again.
The doors opened and in came Hillard, followed by Spencer and two other men. Spencer looked over, and Illya gave him a slight nod to show he was at least still functioning. Hillard spoke quietly to the three men who had been set to guard duty, then cleared the three-step distance to his hostage.
"All right, Kuryakin, why did Waverly send you and Solo here?"
Illya shrugged. "The reunion?"
Wrong answer. Hillard slapped him. "I want to know what UNCLE knows about Operation NHS!"
Since what UNCLE knew about Operation NHS had just gone from nothing to one thing, Illya wasn't quite sure how he should reply. His silence was taken for insolence. "It doesn't really matter what you say, Kuryakin. Either way, you're going to find yourself disappeared for interfering in a CIA operation. I get to decide whether your death is slow or quick, and my decision depends on how helpful you are."
Illya had a feeling Hillard had already made up his mind on this matter. However, this seemed to be one of those rare situations where the truth served better than a lie. "UNCLE doesn't know anything about it. We saw Stevens earlier today. I thought it was suspicious that he was back from Berlin. I decided to take a look around while my partner attended the banquet."
Hillard slapped him again. "Nonsense. Why would Waverly have you accompany your partner if he didn't know something was going on?"
"Perhaps he did. He did not bother to inform Napoleon or myself, however."
Hillard seemed to consider this. His lips curved into a scornful smile. "I hope that's true, Kuryakin. I would love it if we finally took you down for being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"I believe they call that irony in some circles."
Hillard ignored him and turned to his men. "Leave him here. He's not going anywhere, and we need help moving it into the transport."
The spooks filed out, but Spencer remained. "Sir, I don't think it's safe to keep Kuryakin here alone," he said, just loudly enough for Illya to hear. "He's notorious for getting out of these situations. And with his partner in the vicinity..."
Hillard nodded. "Excellent thinking, Spencer. You stay here. We should have enough men with those already out there." He sneered at Illya. "Now we'll have two trophies to take back to headquarters," he said, and disappeared outside.
Spencer glared at him. "Why didn't you listen to me? This is not something to die over, believe me."
"What's going on out there?" Illya asked, squinting at the tinted windows.
Spencer sighed. "It's nothing. Yale insulted our pride, so we're getting back at Yale in a way not at all reminiscent of a fraternity initiation."
"What are you doing?"
"We're stealing the Hale statue."
Illya would have laughed, had he been the type who laughed. He did drop his jaw a little, which was nearly as rare, but blatant displays of stupidity never failed to astound him. "Why?" he managed.
Spencer shrugged. "Because Yale wouldn't give it to us."
This did not exactly seem reasonable to Illya, but there were still things in American culture that he found absolutely ludicrous, and he filed this among them. He knew, of course, that meaningless symbols were very important to Americans, and this, it seemed had something to do with that. "What are you doing to do with it?"
"I don't know. Display it somewhere?"
"Won't Yale know you took it?"
"What are they going to do? Send some grad students to steal it back from CIA headquarters?"
Illya nodded. "I see your point."
Spencer sighed. "You should have made yourself scarce. Hillard doesn't like you; not many of our people do, you know. And he thinks getting you off our radar will get him big points with some of the people upstairs."
"Yes, he did manage to convey his intentions quite effectively."
There was a bang outside, followed by a loud cursed, then Hillard shouted, "Spencer! Get the hell out here!"
Spencer glanced at Illya. "I have to go." He hesitated, then covered the short distance to the chair and placed something thin and metallic in Illya's right palm. "Here. Do you think you can get out of these things before one of them gets back?"
"I think I have a much better chance of doing so than I did before."
Spencer nodded and exited the truck.
Illya began fiddling with the lock on his left handcuff. As he worked, he considered what he knew of the CIA's plan. He supposed the additional information should provide something of an incentive; after all, it was more than just his own life at stake.
But he was finding it more than a little difficult to get worked into hero mode over a statue.
Another speaker had usurped Trevor's place during Napoleon's absence. Napoleon didn't recognize him; either he had not played a significant role in Napoleon's undergraduate experience, or he, like the Hale statue and so many other things covered in Trevor's illuminating presentation, was a fairly new acquisition of Yale's. He was speaking without the aid of slides, but someone had failed to turn the lights back up--thus, the audience had worked itself into a kind of trance. It was the first genuine Yale moment Napoleon had had all evening--just like being back in class.
Not caring if he was interrupting anything anyone wanted to hear, he stormed back to Stevens and loomed over him in an intimidating fashion.
"Where's my partner?" he hissed.
Stevens' expression was mild, though Napoleon could detect a gleam of triumph in his narrow eyes. "Sit down, Napoleon, you're disturbing everyone."
Everyone did not look particularly disturbed, although their attention had quickly shifted from the stage to the confrontation in front of them. The occupants at their table had begun whispering among themselves, drawing the attention of those seated nearby. Not caring that he was creating a scene (these could sometimes prove necessary and valuable), Napoleon leaned in closer. "Tell me where Illya is," he said, more loudly than before.
Stevens glanced around at the growing number of witnesses and cleared his throat. He had obviously realized that he stood to lose more by a revelation than Napoleon did. "What makes you think I know where your damned Ruskie partner is?" he asked, standing now and leaning in close to keep their conversation more intimate. "You told me he went back to New York."
"And by now we've both realized that isn't true," Napoleon said, raising his voice once again so Stevens had to pull away to spare his eardrums. "I know you've been in contact with whoever you've got with you on this pathetic mission you've managed to rope, and I know they're the reason I can't raise Illya on the communicator." He saw Tom's wife lean over and begin whispering excitedly to her husband; indeed, as the scene became more tense, the people watching had were becoming correspondingly more agitated. Napoleon sensed that other people were joining his audience, as the dialogue was rapidly becoming significantly more exciting than anything else that had happened thus far that evening.
Stevens sensed it too. "Perhaps we should take this outside," he said in an undertone, appealing to that intense desire for privacy shared by all spies.
"I think we're just fine where we are," Napoleon responded, and the eager audience let out a sigh of relief.
Stevens' expression changed from a grimace to a scowl. "Why would I tell you where your partner was, even if I did know? His safety is none of my concern."
"In fact, you've actively put his life in danger in the past, and that was none too good for your career," Napoleon said, his voice taking on a dangerous edge. "It was your 'blunder' last year that got you exiled to Berlin, right, Stevens?" The word "Berlin" inspired a crescendo in the whispered conversations going on around them.
Stevens' scowl deepened. "You have no business mixing with someone like him, Solo! You should have seen I was only acting for the good of this country. Either he's a spy or he's too incompetent for his own people to keep around. It's un-American to be associating with him; you've put your, your own needs before the good of your country and that makes you a traitor!"
There were several shocked intakes of breath. Many of the observers looked quite stricken, having decided to root for the better-looking of the two men; surely they had not chosen the bad guy?
Napoleon set his jaw. He smoothed back his hair, straightened his tie, and regarded Stevens evenly. The man seemed nervous at the delay; he played with the college ring on his right hand and refused to meet Napoleon's eye, which had taken on a deadly gleam; it suggested his potential for violence as effectively as his weapon would have. Napoleon dropped his hand and leaned in close to Stevens' face. "As un-American as committing an act of larceny on American soil? As traitorous as stealing from dear old Yale like it's an enemy satrapy? No, Stevens, I think you and the CIA have the trump card for un-American and traitorous."
Even the speaker at the podium had stopped calling for attention. To Napoleon's right, Tom's wife was whispering that she'd known, she'd just known that this had to do with the CIA. Kirkland ignored her, staring instead at these two men he had thought he'd known so well.
While Napoleon and Stevens glared at each other, the crowd seemed suddenly to realize the implications of Napoleon's accusation. A babble ran through the room like a rushing tide as the guests tried to interpret what possible value Yale could be to a group of highly-trained spies.
"You've signed your partner's death warrant," Stevens muttered.
Napoleon smiled grimly. "If it hadn't been sealed already, you wouldn't be working for the American people in the way you think they want." He turned away from Stevens and addressed the entire assemblage. "Ladies and gentlemen, as friends and alumni of Yale University, you have the right to know that our own Central Intelligence Agency intends to liberate from this campus our beloved Nathan Hale statue for its own purposes, whatever those may be." He let this information sink in. "I believe this is a sad and ridiculous turn of events, and they are attempting to make a mockery of our dear alma mater."
"Here, here!" shouted Daniel Welling, rising to his feet. His action was imitated by the others at their table and then the rest of the room. As the murmurings grew shriller and more enthusiastic, someone saw fit to commence with the next scheduled number: from somewhere toward the back of the hall, the Whiffenpoofs began singing their song:
"To the tables down at Mory's
To the place where Louie dwells
To the dear old Temple Bar we love so well
Sing the Whiffenpoofs assembled
With their glasses raised on high
And the magic of their singing cast its spell!"
The music seemed to inspire the crowd, and their dissident mutterings turned into violent cries against the injustice such that Napoleon would have never suspected from his conservative campus. Next to him, Tom clapped a hand on his shoulder and Sam followed suit. "We're with you, Napoleon!" Tom shouted, glaring at Stevens, who was watching the unfolding scene with equal measures astonishment and horror.
"You'll pay for his, Solo," he muttered.
Napoleon smiled. "Perhaps someday, Frederick," he conceded. "But I think for the moment you'll have to concede that victory is mine. Now if you don't mind," he continued, pointing toward the door and making sure that his loyal band of followers was behind him, "we'll be on our way to Hale and Illya."
Illya would have thought that after releasing the lock on the first bracelet of the handcuffs with both hands quite literally tied behind his back, the same trick a second time with one hand free would prove quite a bit easier. This, however, was not proving to be the case. Though it was more convenient, not to mention comfortable, to have his left hand free to fiddle with the nail in the lock, his efforts were yielding very little result. Perhaps he should handcuff his other hand again and start from scratch; he had had much more practice escaping this way, after all. Maybe the luxury of a free hand was actually impairing him. He would rather not resort to such desperate measures, but his intuition was telling him he didn't have much time to waste on the lock. There was, after all, a statue to attend to.
There was a loud crash from outside; Illya whirled as much as his current position would allow and felt his hand jerk so he nearly lost hold of the nail. He managed to grasp it before it slipped through his fingers, and, as he moved to get a better grip, he heard the lock click and felt the bracelet fall away. He spared his former bonds a sardonic glance then dropped the nail in favor of his gun, which the spooks had neglected to crush. His communicator, naturally, was a lost cause, which meant he was on his own. Well, he was certainly capable of facing down an entire squad of armed CIA agents; they would, after all, be saddled with a rather large and awkward bronze statue, which should restrict their movements somewhat. He wondered a moment at the situations fate threw his way, then checked his weapon and headed outside.
He hid himself behind a tree about twenty feet from the van. Despite the darkness, he could make out several man-sized dark shapes gathered around a large, cadaverous object lying on the ground, which he could only assume was Hale's likeness. The men seemed to be having some trouble moving the American martyr and had paused in their work; their apparent aim was a white van with the words "Flower Shop" stenciled on the side. They were still several yards shy of this illustrious goal, and evidently no one had seen fit to move the van onto the lawn, rather than bring the statue to the van.
Illya watched as one of the men removed something from the statue's face. Then Hillard spoke:
"Okay, men, let's get this done with. This statue's got to get from here to there and it sure as hell ain't walking there itself.
Illya chose to wait until the men had been burdened with their heavy load before making his move. Once the grumblings had morphed to moans of effort, he stepped out of his hiding place, brandishing his weapon.
"Unhand the Yankee, if you will."
"Damn, Kuryakin!" Hillard cursed.
"The same. If you will please halt your progress?"
The men seemed more than willing to comply. Hale went once again to the ground. This, of course, left the men free to go for their weapons, which they did upon Hillard's order.
Illya ducked back behind the tree. He doubted he even had enough bullets to shoot his way out of this. He whirled around, hoping to make a calculated retreat back toward the van where he had been kept, and bumped into an armed man of prodigious proportions.
He was quickly surrounded. The giant snatched his weapon away and then grabbed his arms rather harshly and pinned them behind his back. Illya groaned silently as Hillard approached.
"Kuryakin," he tsked, leaning in to speak mere inches from Illya's face. "I think you fail to realize the seriousness of your situation."
"You are quite correct. This whole setup strikes me as particularly ludicrous, even for the CIA."
Hillard smiled. "I don't know why someone didn't kill you a long time ago. You manage to grate on one's nerves after a very short acquaintance." He craned his neck upward to speak to the agent holding Illya. "Bring him over by the statue. In honor of our own departed spy, we'll have an impromptu execution. It'll prepare him for his new home."
Illya grit his teeth as he was maneuvered toward Hale's prone form. He wondered vaguely whether Napoleon was enjoying the bombardment of memories and was relieved that he at least would not have to explain to Waverly how his partner had managed to get executed for espionage while he was busy reliving his college days.
"Hold on!" Hillard yelled about ten yards from the statue, and the party came to a general halt. Illya stretched his senses through the darkness and thought he could hear something approaching from across the campus...
A flashlight beam fell on their little group and then shifted to the statue. "There it is!" a woman's shriek informed them, and they were instantly beset upon by a group of disgruntled alumni. Cries of "How dare you!" "Put those guns away!" and "You'd think this wasn't America!" could be heard rustling through the crowd as they hurried to aid their fallen comrade. In the ensuing chaos, Illya managed to shrug off the hands holding him in place before retreating into the melee.
The Elis grouped en masse around the statue, muttering and shouting. The CIA held their ground and watched with apparent unease as the crowd grew even larger and louder as more and more spotted the statue. They looked ready to effect a hasty retreat, but were fast running out of convenient ways in which to do so.
"Illya!" Napoleon shouted as he caught a glimpse of his partner's light hair. Illya turned and acknowledged him, and they made their way to a quieter spot amid the throng of people.
"Is this the cavalry you're always promising?" Illya asked.
Napoleon glanced around. "That's about the size of it. Were we needed?"
"The CIA wanted to see to it that I joined Hale, ah, permanently."
"How very dramatic of them."
"Yes, I am sure they are quite upset at the moment. Perhaps you would like to have a few words with them?"
"Sounds like a good idea. Would you care to take me to their leader?"
"Certainly. He's right over..." Illya whirled back to the spot he had escaped the CIA's clutches just moments before, only to find it quite abandoned. The truck and the vans were gone as well. "I'm sorry, Napoleon. It seems the CIA has opted for a strategic withdrawal."
"Probably wise of them."
"I see they have left your old friend to bare the brunt," Illya observed, gesturing toward a dejected-looking Frederick Stevens, who had finally decided to join the pandemonium.
Napoleon was about to reply, when Tom Kirkland and Matthew Duncan approached.
"Napoleon, old man!" Tom said, slapping Napoleon on the back and drawing a scowl of distaste from Illya, who stepped aside to allow the large and crazy man a wide berth. "We'd like to restore Hale to his proper place, as a symbol of our college. What do you think? We'll get some strong men together and jog him back over there."
"I think that sounds like a splendid idea," Napoleon said, and Tom moved to the front of the crowd, eager to relate his inspired plan, followed somewhat less enthusiastically by Matthew. From somewhere, an old Whiffenpoof began singing the song again; those who knew the words and harmony gradually joined in as Kirkland assembled a group of able-bodied volunteers and they began to slowly and painfully convey the statue back to its original station:
"Yes, the magic of their singing
Of the songs we love so well
'Shall I Wasting' and 'Mavourneen' and the rest
We shall serenade our Louis while life and poise shall last
Then we'll pass and be forgotten with the rest!"
Illya retreated to the outer fringes and Napoleon followed. Illya gave him a sidelong glance. "Don't you want to join your fellow Whiffenpoofs as they restore the lost lamb to his former pasture?"
"I think I've had enough of the Yale spirit for one weekend. And I don't feel much up to heavy lifting."
"None at all?" Illya gave him a wicked grin.
Napoleon smiled tolerantly. "Even you can't quite pull off a seduction when your head is openly bleeding.
"Illya touched his forehead. "Oh. I thought it had stopped."
"I think you had better get that looked at before we do anything strenuous."
Illya locked his face in a glare. "I'm sure it's fine. We can deal with it later."
"I don't think that's an option, Illya," Napoleon said sternly, though with a glint in his eye.
Illya considered, then conceded. "All right. But no hospitals."
"Surely you don't expect me to stitch you up."
"Didn't anyone in your class grow up to be a doctor? Or does everyone who graduates from Yale become a spy?"
"I believe you're thinking of your own alma mater."
"Perhaps, but we at least had some with a basic medical training. Anyone like that?"
"As a matter of fact..."
Though he specialized in pediatric care, Dr. Duncan was more than willing to stitch up Illya's head; he wasn't one for heavy lifting himself, and crowds made him uncomfortable. After Illya had been discharged with a relatively clean bill of health, Napoleon took him back to the hotel and let him follow up on his suggestion.
They could almost forget they were in New Haven.
The warm Connecticut sun shown over the college. Though ostensibly neutral in its affections, it seemed to focus an inordinate amount of attention upon the bronze statue of Nathan Hale, restored to its former glory by the devoted alumni.
Napoleon regarded it with some camaraderie. It was true that he would not want Yale to be his final resting place, but overall, he didn't think it was such a bad choice for Hale. He had barely been away five years when he had been executed; for Napoleon, it had now been three times as many, and he had discovered that diverse and satisfactory life existed outside of college. Hale looked so young...they had passed such different lives, had had varied experiences in the espionage field, certainly, but they shared something basic, something that had always drawn him to Hale, something that drew him to this replica now.
He had bade farewell to his other Yale acquaintances a few minutes before; the number seemed to have multiplied since last night. Now alone, he regarded Hale, a small, sardonic smile playing on his lips.
"Are you going to stare at that thing all day?"
Illya had arrived, which must mean the car was loaded and they could depart. But Napoleon felt no urge to budge, just yet; he continued to study Hale while watching the tension lines appear on Illya's forehead and nasal cavity. "As long as there's nothing better to look at," he replied, and gave Illya's body a long, careful glance.
Illya rolled his eyes. "Fine. But listen while you look."
"Go ahead." His eyes found Hale once again.
Illya sighed. "Well, according to the grapevine, Hillard has managed to shift the blame to your old buddy Frederick Stevens, who has once again been sentenced to an indefinite stay behind a desk in Berlin."
Napoleon smiled slightly. "I suppose it serves him right."
"I have no doubt that it does, though it's hardly the most noble of endings for a Yale alumnus. I also talked to Dave Spencer. He said the CIA would send my gun back, but that I shouldn't hold my breath until it comes. As though I planned to."
"It's an expression."
"I know what it is."
"Did you thank him for helping you out last night?"
Illya's eyes narrowed. "Yes. And, despite his meddling, he came out of it without a tarnish. It was, after all, his idea to take the cast."
"Yes. Spencer thought it was a pretty silly idea to move an entire statue across Yale's grand and grandiose campus and then drive it back to Langley. Too many possible glitches. He thought the better solution would be to make a mold of the face and then have someone copy it so the CIA could construct an identical Hale statue for themselves. He suggested this to Hillard, who agreed to it as a contingency plan. They had paused to take the cast when your angry mob stopped them."
"Yes, weren't they wonderful? I guess one can learn something from a New Haven education."
"If only their timing had been better. Though the CIA didn't get the statue, they still have the cast, and they'll be able to have a Hale for themselves."
"Oh," Napoleon said, frowning. He gave the statue one last look and turned to go.
Illya matched his steps as they made their way toward the car. "You seem a bit upset at the way things turned out."
Napoleon shrugged. "Well, we stopped them, and Hale will stay here, at least. But it's a bit annoying that they've still managed a consolation prize with a lousy plan like that. And, well, I always kind of liked Hale. A good Yankee like him would be horrified to find himself down on a Virginia farm, even if they do grow spies."
Illya nodded, and they exited the campus in thoughtful silence. As they turned down the side road toward their car, Illya spoke up, "But, in the end, the joke's still on the CIA."
"Really," Napoleon said, his voice flat. "How so?"
Illya paused and pulled a folded piece of paper out of his pocket. His expression had taken on a familiar diabolical arch.
"Well, you know that Hale was only twenty-two when he died."
"Yes, we had established that."
"So it's hardly surprising that he had yet to do anything of renowned. Aside from graduating from Yale, I mean."
"He graduated at an extraordinarily young age."
"Well, young for present day America, anyway," Illya said haughtily.
"What is your point?"
"Before his illustrious if brief career as America's first spy, Hale had trouble finding work even as a schoolteacher. No one expected he would amount to much. But he did figure he had his whole life ahead of him, and there was no hurry."
"Why, to get his portrait done, of course. No likeness of Nathan Hale exists. A not uncommon predicament for a spy, I suppose."
Napoleon stopped walking. It did seem odd that he had never had a good idea of what Hale looked like, despite the bygone years of vague emulation. "Then who's that back at campus?"
Illya was trying hard to keep a serious face. "According to the welcome committee, that is a statue of the previous year's most handsome student, sketched and sculpted, and then labeled Nathan Hale."
Napoleon thought about this for a moment, then began walking again, faster now. "It must not have been much of a year," he observed.
"It's a shame they didn't decide to erect it fifteen years earlier. But then, of course, they'll be stuck with twin statues when yours goes up."
"You mean in about two hundred years."
"And you've never been painted either."
"How can you make a statement like that with a straight face. Remember two months ago, in California..."
Illya smiled. "Not in the conventional sense, then."
"How do you know?"
"One just has a sense of these things. Besides, I doubt you'd be willing to die with your diploma clutched in your fist, "I regret that I have only one life to give for my college..."
They reached the car. Illya got in the driver's side while Napoleon slid in next to him. Illya started the car and pulled out of the spot.
They had just about left New Haven behind when Napoleon spoke, "There's still one thing."
"How did Waverly know about the CIA's plan? And why didn't he just tell us about it? And why did he even care?"
"That's three things. Didn't they teach you to count at that..."
"No Yale jokes, please. Not for another fifteen years at least."
"If you think I'm returning for your thirtieth anniversary..."
Napoleon shook his head. "Well, what say you?"
"I think he was too embarrassed to explain the assignment to us."
"Embarrassed? Waverly? After radar bats and coded dresses and abominable snowman..."
"Embarrassed. Yes." Illya glanced at him out of the corner of his eye. "Even after all that, you have to admit, it was pretty silly."
"That cute butterfly band-aid on your forehead suggests it was quite serious."
"Call it cute one more time and I will murder you."
"How? You lost your gun."
"There are other ways," Illya replied enigmatically.
Napoleon reached over and ran a hand down the back of Illya's neck. He shivered and pulled back. "Not when I'm driving!"
Napoleon sighed and removed his hand. A thought occurred to him. "You don't think Waverly wanted the statue for UNCLE headquarters, do you?"
"I find that hard to believe," Illya said. "We're not just American spies at UNCLE. And imagine Nathan Hale in front of Del Floria's. I think it might draw some unwanted attention."
"Well, if we need to, we can always so take a cast of the one a Langley."
Illya flashed a quick smile. "Yes, certainly. Those Elis and Whiffenpoofs are far too fearsome. I'll take the CIA any day."